Putting woes drop Pagdanganan to joint 35th after 74

Jan Veran - Philstar.com
Putting woes drop Pagdanganan to joint 35th after 74
Bianca Pagdanganan

MANILA, Philippines -- Bianca Pagdanganan lost her momentum as she lost her putting touch, faltering with a 74 after a 68 and dropping from joint second to a share of 35th halfway through the Mizuho Americans Open, now led by Atthaya Thitikul in New Jersey Friday (Saturday Manila time).

While Pagdanganan advanced to the weekend play of the $3-million championship, the ICTSI-backed shotmaker fell seven strokes behind the Thai after positioning herself just two shots off erstwhile leader So Mi Lee with an impressive four-under card Thursday.

Following a round with six birdies and two bogeys, birdies were scarce for the big-hitting Filipina in the second day as she managed just one birdie on No. 16, breaking a streak of three bogeys.

Clearly, the Liberty National Golf Club’s greens challenged her performance as she finished with 36 putts, 12 more than in her first-round. Despite missing six fairways, Pagdanganan demonstrated accuracy with her irons, hitting all but two greens.

However, her putting woes caused her to drop into the company of In Gee Chun, Sei Young Kim, Brooke Henderson, Madelene Sagstrom, Jenny Shin and Hannah Green.

Thitikul, meanwhile, surged to the lead at 135 with a strong finish, birdying five of the last seven holes, including a three-birdie binge from the 15th, to overtake So Mi Lee by two strokes. The Korean slowed down with a 71 after a 66 for a 137.

Another Thai, Ariya Jutanugarn, shot a 68 to force a four-way tie at third at 138, including world No. 1 Nelly Korda, who also posted a four-under card, and Australian Gabriela Ruffels, who turned in a 70.

While Pagdanganan made it past the cut, ICTSI teammate Yuka Saso failed to advance with a 74 and a 146, three strokes below the cutoff line.

After an opening 72, Saso moved up from a tie for 41st with four birdies in her first six holes at the back. But she fell back with a three-bogey slide to close out the back nine.

She added three more bogeys in a birdie-less front nine, which did not bode well for her campaign in the upcoming US Women’s Open, which she ruled in 2021, scheduled for May 30-June 2 in Pennsylvania.

In Utah, Clariss Guce carded a 70 but trailed Fiona Xu by nine after two rounds of the Copper Rock Championship at the Copper Rock course in Hurricane, also Friday.

Guce made four birdies but slipped with two bogeys for a 34-36 card and a 36-hole aggregate of five-under 139, placing her in joint 10th.

Xu, however, moved 18 holes away from securing her first professional win with a solid 63, highlighted by a five-birdie roll from No. 2. She pooled a 130 and gained a two-stroke lead over Kaleigh Tefler, who fired a 68 for a 132.

Alena Sharp, who shared the first round lead with Tefler, settled for a 72 and a 136.

Abby Arevalo, meanwhile, bounced back from a 73 with a three-birdie, one-bogey round and a 70 and advanced to the final round with a 143.

Dottie Ardina, however, failed to advance in the tournament she ruled for her first Epson Tour victory in 2022. After a first round 72, she struggled with four bogeys against two birdies, her bid hindered by poor putting, resulting in 33 putts.

Pauline del Rosario, on the other hand, withdrew due to injury, ending a run of six consecutive cuts made in the season.

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