THREATENED by three Thais, Bianca Pagdanganan kept her poise and closed out the way she did in the first round, scoring birdies in three of the last five holes to card a 68 and take a two-shot lead over Thai Kan Bunnabodee Thursday in the women’s golf competition of the SEA Games at the Luisita Golf and Country Club in Tarlac.
Counting her opening 70, the LPGA Tour-bound Pagdanganan pooled a six-under 138, two ahead of Bunnabodee heading to the final round of the 54-hole tournament which the Thais dominated with three gold medals the last time out in Kuala Lumpur.
“I hit a lot of good shots,” said Pagdanganan, who bucked a bogey at the back with three birdies then fought back from another miscue on No. 3 with a birdie on the fifth before holing out with back-to-back feats.
“Actually, my short game was pretty good,” added the 21-year-old Gonzaga native, who missed just one green in the first round but needed to come up with some recovery shots to save par and hold sway in the face of the Thais’ charge.
Bunnabodee tied Pagdanganan at four-under overall twice but reeled back both times with a pair of double bogeys though she rebounded with back-to-back birdies from No. 3 to shoot a 69 and keep the leader within sight at 140.
Pimnipa Panthong also carded a 68 after a 74 and grabbed solo third at 142 and a spot in the final group with Pagdanganan and Bunnabodee in what promises to be a shootout for the coveted medal that could mean so much for the 2017 Philippine Ladies Open champion.
Thai top gun Atthaya Thitikul also gave herself a shot at the crown with a 69 although the world No. 1 fell farther back by six at 144, settling in the second-to-last flight with the Phl’s Lois Kaye Go and Indonesia’s Ida Ayu Melati Putri.
Go, who produced the lone bronze for Team Phl in 2017, missed closing in on the leaders with a bogey on No. 8, finishing with 35-35 for a 70 and a 143 in a tie with Putri, who fired a 69.