IN a riveting down-the-wire battle, rookie Bianca Pagdanganan held her own yesterday against tour veterans Ally McDonald and Danielle Kang before winding up in third place in the LPGA Drive On Championship-Reynolds Lake Oconee tournament in Greensboro, Georgia.
Playing in the last flight with the two established tour campaigners, Pagdanganan went down fighting, banking on back-to-back birdies on the last two holes to close out with a two-under 70 over the par 72 6,664-yard Great Waters course.
The 30th Southeast Asian Games double gold medalist had a 72-hole total of 274 and won $83,557 (roughly P4.04 million). She finished two strokes behind McDonald, who checked in with a 69 for 272 for her first tour win after five years on the circuit.
It was also a perfect gift for the diabetic American golfer, who celebrated her 28th birthday by pocketing the top pot of $195,000 (P7.2 million), while Kang 68-73 took the runner-up purse of $115,184 (P5.5 million).
“Being at this level and just being able to compete with the greatest players, it’s so much fun,” Pagdanganan, who is marking her 23rd birthday tomorrow, said.
“I say this a lot, but I really do get to live my dream. If you told me a couple years ago that I would be playing on the LPGA Tour and be in this position in my rookie year I probably wouldn’t believe you,” she said.
“Playing with the best of (the) best, it’s such a great experience, especially as a rookie. (It) makes me want to be in this position even more.”