There’s a new young Asian talent to follow on the LPGA Tour, and for a change she’s not South Korean, Japanese or Thai — but from the Philippines.
Rookie Bianca Pagdanganan, who turns 23 on Wednesday, has been captivating observers with her relaxed demeanour and prodigious power since making her pro debut in July.
Pagdanganan finished tied ninth two weeks ago in her first major, the PGA Championship, and was then tied for third Sunday at the Drive On Championships behind winner Ally McDonald and world number five Danielle Kang to rocket to 43rd in the 2020 money list after playing only six events.
But it’s her length off the tee which has many believing she could be the future of women’s golf.
Pagdanganan, who won team gold and individual bronze for the Philippines at the 2018 Asian Games, has been regularly blasting her driver past the 300-yard mark, a distance few women can match.
“Yeah, she whacks it,” said Haley Moore, her NCAA championship-winning teammate at the University of Arizona. “We were like, ‘Oh man, don’t try to keep up with her. She bombs it’.”
Father Sam says Pagdanganan wants to be “the first woman to average 300 yards” (in driving distance). She is already well on her way, leading the tour stats at 288.8 yards, fully six yards further than the next best.
Veteran English major-winner Karen Stupples is already a fan. “She’s got the personality. But she is also the only woman in the game with that kind of power who isn’t afraid to use it,” Stupples told LPGA.com.
“Other players could hit it as far as she does, but they’re afraid to do it. They’ve been told that they need to pull back and keep it in play or hit it to a number. She doesn’t care about any of that. She picks a line and rips it.”
Pagdanganan doesn’t seem to know what all the fuss is about. “I never really noticed that I hit it far until people started telling me in college,” she says, adding that she is just happy 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 wouldn’t believe you.”