bianaca pagdanganan 1282035133 1024x576 - Pagdanganan in solo second with 69
Bianca Pagdanangan (Photo from LPGA)

Filipino bet Bianca Pagdanganan birdied the final two holes to card a three-under par 69, good for a solo second and just one shot behind pacesetter Ally McDonald of the USA in the third round of the LPGA Drive On Championship Saturday at the Reynolds Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Georgia.

Pagdanganan, a rookie on the LPGA Tour, buried a birdie putt from 3-feet on the par-5 18, after nearly making an eagle on a chip from 15 yards following her solid 315-yard drive.

Before that, the 22-year-old Pagdanganan – a gold medal winner during the 2018 Asian Games and double-gold medalist in the Southeast Asian Games here a year ago – and then made a 15-foot putt on 17, her first on the back nine after seven straight pars.

Overall, she converted five birdies as she also birdied on 2, 7 and 9 on the front nine, where her bogeys came on 3 and 5.

Pagdanganan now has a three-day total of 204 for solo second, just a shot behind McDonald, who also submitted a 69, with 203, while world No. 5 Daniella Kang is at third spot with a 205 after a 70.

Spain’s Carlota Ciganda shot a 68 to stay in contention at fourth place with a 206, followed by Australia’s Katherine Kirk at fifth spot with a 207 after her third round effort of 70 in the $1.3 million event.

Pagdanganan, who had a 66 and 68 in the first two rounds, was tied for second with Kang to start the third round, just one shot back from the 26-year-old McDonald.

A bogey by McDonald on 1, and a birdie by Pagdanganan on 2 gave the latter the lead. However, it was only for a brief moment as Pagdanangan bogeyed on 3, while McDonald recovered with a birdie on 5 – one of her five, before she made a second bogey on 17.

Pagdanganan said she just kept it going despite the two bogeys on the front nine.

“I feel great. There’s like a huge sigh of relief after I made my last putt,” said Pagdanganan in an interview posted on LPGA.Com. “It was a little frustrating, I was heating so many good shots but I couldn’t get any putts to drop.”

“But overall I’m still happy with the way I played. I just told myself, you have so many holes to play (after the pair of bogeys) and you’re not hitting it bad, you just got to calm down and just take it shot by shot.”

Pagdanganan is hoping to win her first LPGA title in six starts.

Two weeks ago, she placed in joint ninth in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in Pennsylvania – a feat that earned her a spot in December’s U.S. Women’s Open at Champions in Houston.

She said her performance at KPMG was a confidence booster, which she hopes to take advantage of in a bid to win her first tour title.

“After playing well at the KPMG, it was a confidence booster and it just helped me realized that I can play good golf and I can be in contention so it’s more of how I can handle my nerve,” said Pagdanganan, who will be in the final pairing with five-time champion Kang and McDonald.

“I was able to handle it pretty well (through the first three rounds),” she said. “So I just got to remind myself to stick to your game plan and don’t try to make anything crazy happen. Just play your own game.”

Former world No. 1 and two-time major winner Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand is in joint sixth with Mina Harigae and Brittany Altomare at 208, while at ninth-12th are multi-titled Lydia Ko of New Zealand, Megan Khang and Angel Yin of the US, and Swedish Pernilla Lindberg at 209.

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