Brandon Jackson could tell by how the way Bianca Pagdanganan moves that her “boss” is extremely excited for the LPGA Mediheal Championship set to kick off Thursday in Daly City, California.
Jackson, Pagdanganan’s full-time caddie, said they’re happy to get back on track after the week off and Yuka Saso’s sensational victory in the US Women’s Open golf championship last Sunday.
“We have definitely talked about it for the last couple days and you can tell that she is extremely excited,” Jackson, referring to Pagdanganan who led a throng of Filipinos cheering Saso in the final round.
“She said that it was amazing to watch and that Yuka never faltered even after being down six going into the back nine,” Jackson narrated.
Jackson couldn’t tell if Saso’s victory has boosted the confidence of Pagdanganan.
“But I definitely can tell that she now understands how impactful winning on the tour is,” he said. “It is very easy to see others win and know what’s at stake, but when someone really close to you does it, it definitely gives you a little more perspective.”
The two Filipino superstars were former young stablemates under coach Carito Villaroman.
Saso and Pagdanganan teamed up with Lois Kaye Go to give the Philippines two gold medals in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Saso took the individual gold while Pagdanganan clinched bronze. They are expected to play in the Summer Olympics next month in Tokyo, Japan.
On Thursday, Pagdanganan hopes to ride on the momentum of Saso’s historic triumph when she and compatriot Dottie Ardina take part in the $1.5-million tournament at Lake Merced Golf Club.
It will only be Pagdanganan’s fourth LPGA tournament this season, having missed the cut in the ANA Inspiration and LOTTE Championship.
She placed joint 39th at the Pure Silk Championship.
Jackson said Pagdanganan’s ball-striking is good.
“It’s hard to tell fully yet just because it was so windy yesterday and we didn’t really hit too many balls before we played today,” said the caddie on Tuesday. “But we spent a lot of time at the range afterwards and we got a lot of things figures out.”
Jackson sees the wind as a big factor.
“The wind here has been anywhere from 8-30 miles per hour thus far and the driver was just getting killed when we were into the wind,” he said. “So, we dialed down the loft a little bit to help with that and it has made a big difference so far.”
Jackson said they adjusted the loft of the driver from 10 to nine degrees and helped Pagdanganan get through the wind better.
The greens at Lake Merced aren’t as fast as at the Mission Inn Resort & Club where she finished tied for 45th in the Symetra Tour last week but still good speed, according to Jackson.
The 23-year-old Filipina has brought back her old putter after experimenting with arm-lock putting during the first two weeks of the season, according to Jackson.
“She liked it for short putts, but the speed on the long putts wasn’t good,” he said.