Bianca Pagdanganan and Dottie Ardina resume their hunt in the LPGA Mediheal Championship beginning Thursday in Daly City, California.
Pagdanganan is still struggling to find her form after an outstanding debut last season with two Top 10 finishes, including joint ninth in her first major, the PGA Championship last October.
She also ended as the Tour’s driving leader at the end of the pandemic-hit season.
In her last outing at the Mission Inn tournament of Symetra two weeks ago, Pagdanganan shared 48th.
Going into the $1.5 million event at the Lake Merced Golf Club, Pagdanganan is feeling upbeat inspired by Yuka Saso’s major breakthrough in the US Women’s Open last Sunday.
“Just practicing, with a tournament this week, that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing,” said the 23-year-old power-hitter, who drew a 7:48 a.m. start with American Jane Park and Alena Sharp of Canada on No. 1.
Ardina, who shared fifth place in the IOA Championship of the Symetra Tour last March but hobbled to joint 31st in Pure Silk before finishing tied for 41st at Mission Inn, kicks off her drive two flights ahead at 7:37 a.m. with Julieta Granada of Paraguay and Linnea Strom of Sweden.
The ICTSI-backed shotmakers will have their hands full this week with five of the world’s top 10 headlining the stellar cast, including No. 3 Sei Young Kim of Korea, No. 5 Brooke Henderson of Canada, Americans Daniella Kang (No. 6) and Lexi Thompson (No. 7) and No. 8 Hyo Joo Kim, also of Korea.
Pagdanganan, who will join Saso as spearheads of Team Philippines in the Tokyo Olympics in August, was in San Francisco and witnessed her long-time friend beat Japanese No. 1 Nasa Hataoka in the third extra hole.
She updated friends back home with Instagram videos as her hands shook as Saso pounced on Thompson’s backside collapse and mounted her charge with clutch birdies, including the clincher on the third playoff hole.
Saso and Pagdanganan led the Philippines to a sweep of the Asian Games gold medals in 2018 in Jakarta.
Pagdanganan sees Saso’s triumph as a great source of inspiration, not just from her fellow pros, but for many young girls.
“She just put the Philippines on the radar,” said Pagdanganan, who hopes to feed on the Fil-Japanese ace’s milestone this week. “It just takes one person.”