Pagdanganan secures joint-7th finish; Korda triumphs anew

Jan Veran - Philstar.com
Pagdanganan secures joint-7th finish; Korda triumphs anew
Bianca Pagdanganan of the Philippines acknowledges the crowd after a putt on the 14th green during the final round of the Mizuho Americas Open at Liberty National Golf Club on May 19, 2024 in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Sarah Stier / Getty Images / AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Bianca Pagdanganan closed out with a one-birdie round, but her 71 netted her a joint-seventh-place finish in the Mizuho Americas Open ruled by the red-hot Nelly Korda in New Jersey Sunday (Monday Manila time).

After an impressive 66 in the pivotal round that propelled her to joint eighth Saturday, Pagdanganan struggled to capitalize on her strong tee shots, nearly nullifying her near-perfect 12-of-14 stint off the tee from a 296-yard driving average.

Her iron and wedge play faltered, leading to five missed greens. The greens also proved tough, as she finished with 30 putts after a 25-putt performance in the third round.

Nevertheless, the ICTSI-backed campaigner maintained a bogey-free round by rescuing pars in two bunker visits.

With a nine-under 279 total at the Liberty National Golf Club, Pagdanganan shared seventh place with six others, including third round leader Atthaya Thitikul, who carded a 70, and major winners Patty Tavatanakit and Sei Young Kim, who shot 70 and 71, respectively. Each received $64,365 (P3.7 million).

Although it was far from her career-best finish of joint second at the Ascendant LPGA Benefitting Volunteers of America last year, Pagdanganan remains optimistic. She aims to build on her current form as she prepares for the next LPGA tournaments.

The week, however, belonged to Korda as the reigning World No. 1 nailed her sixth championship in seven starts this season by delivering a solid back nine performance. She finished with a bogey-free 33 after a 38 for a round of 71, narrowly edging Hannah Green by one stroke with a 14-under 274 total.

Green and Korda were neck-and-neck for most of the final round. Green pounced on Korda’s shaky start to tie for the lead, setting up a dramatic finish. Both players were tied at 14-under heading into the par-4 closing hole.

But Green’s drive landed in the rough and she overshot the 18th green. Her missed par-putt from 15 feet allowed Korda to secure the victory with a two-putt par, marking her sixth championship of the season.

Ayaka Furue joined the leaders briefly but stumbled at the finish, ending with a 73 and dropping to joint seventh with Pagdanganan and others.

Korda’s round featured three bogeys and a birdie on the front nine, suggesting a potential reversal in the $3-million championship. Green’s aggressive play kept her in contention, while Furue and other competitors remained within striking distance as the back nine approached.

However, Korda’s composure and resilience under pressure underscored why she’s the best player in the world today. She outlasted Green in a head-to-head battle, clinching her 14th LPGA Tour victory.

Reflecting on her performance, Korda said: “Oh, my gosh, six,” said Korda. “I can’t even really gather myself right now with that, the head-to-head that Hannah (Green) and I had pretty much all day.”

The reigning Olympic gold medalist acknowledged it wasn’t her best performance but praised the intense competition with Green, who she considers a good friend.

With the victory, Korda became the first player since Inbee Park in 2013 to win six times in single season. She is also the first American to achieve this feat since Beth Daniel won seven titles in 1990. Korda has also matched Annika Sorenstam’s record as the fastest player to win six times in an LPGA Tour season since 1980, accomplishing this in just her eighth start of 2024.

Korda won her first five tournaments in the season, including the first major at the Chevron Championship. Her winning streak was halted in last week’s Cognizant Founders Cup, won by Rose Zhang, where she tied for seventh.

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