Late miscue stalls Pagdanganan's fightback

Jan Veran - Philstar.com
Late miscue stalls Pagdanganan's fightback
Bianca Pagdanganan of the Philippines lines up a putt on the 16th green during the final round of The Ascendant LPGA benefiting Volunteers of America at Old American Golf Club on October 08, 2023 in The Colony, Texas.
Sam Hodde / Getty Images / AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Bianca Pagdanganan endured a late frontside setback, missing a chance for a joint fifth place finish with a one-under 71 as she trailed American Sarah Schmelzel by three strokes at the start of the Women’s World Championship in Singapore Thursday.

The power-hitting Filipina rebounded from a bogey at the backside of Sentosa Golf Club’s Tanjong course with birdies on Nos. 1, 3 and 6. But she faltered with her second miscue on the eighth to finish with a 34-37 and a share of 10th in a starting field of 66.

Interestingly, Pagdanganan’s occurred on Nos. 13 and 8, both par-5s.

Despite the late slip, showcased her power game as she hit all but two fairways with a 270-yard driving norm. She missed four greens but finished with 31 putts.

Yuka Saso, on the other hand, blew a frontside two-under card with a wobbly finish that saw her drop four strokes in the last six holes to tumble to joint 36th with a 74.

That included a bogey on the challenging No. 13, a double bogey on the par-3 17th and another miscue on the last in an unexpected windup for the 2021 US Women’s Open champion.

Pagdanganan and ICTSI teammate Saso are aiming to improve on their finishes in the Honda LPGA Thailand last week where the former wound up tied 29th and the latter shared 16th place.

Despite struggling with her driver and irons, Saso initially made a strong start with a two-under card after nine holes, including birdies on Nos. 8 and 9.

However, shaky driving and irons hindered her progress in the latter part of the round. She missed five fairways and seven greens but salvaged 29 putts.

Schmelzel, meanwhile, upstaged the big guns to steal the opening day show in the $1.7 million championship, coming through with five frontside birdies to offset a lone bogey at the back for a 68.

She led Lilia Vu by one after the reigning world No. 1 turned in a bogey-free 69 to join

Swede Linn Grant and Germany’s Esther Henseleit at second.

But five players stood another stroke back at 70, including Thai Chanetee Wannasaen, Ireland’s Leona Maguire, Andrea Lee of the US and Koreans Hyo Joo Kim and In Gee Chun, while reigning back-to-back defending champion Jin Young Ko, also of Korea, shot a 71 to tie Pagdanganan and 11 others at 10th.

Patty Tavatanakit, winner at home last week, recovered from a three-bogey skid from No. 10 with consecutive birdies from No. 16 as she dropped to tied 30th with six others at 73.

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