Early birthday cheer for Filipina sensation Bianca Pagdanganan

Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images

Filipina sensation Bianca Pagdanganan will have much to celebrate when her 23rd birthday swings around on Wednesday.

The LPGA rookie chalked up her best finish so far on tour with a third placing at the LPGA Drive On Championship at the Great Waters Course of Reynolds Lake Oconee over the weekend. Pagdanganan has been making heads turn with her aggressive style of play and scorching drives, which have placed her top of the 2020 LPGA driving stats with an average of more than 288 yards.

“But being at this level and just being able to compete with the greatest players, it’s so much fun. Like, I say this a lot, but I really do get to live my dream,” said Pagdanganan, who graduated from the University of Arizona last year after a stellar collegiate career.

“If you’d 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 probably wouldn’t have believed you,” she added.

After a quiet start to her professional career when the LPGA’s abbreviated 2020 season resumed in late July, Pagdanganan surged into the limelight with a T9 finish in her Major debut at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship earlier this month. Then came the performance at Reynolds Lake Oconee, where she was in contention all week and indeed looked a good bet for the title.

The 2019 SEA Games double gold medalist names Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa as her idols growing up. “They were definitely the top players when I was growing up. But I also had some local players to look up to … Jennifer Rosales, who played on tour when I was starting to play golf,” she said.

With the LPGA on a three-week break, Pagdanganan will take a few days off before getting back to training. “I’m definitely going to take some time off again. I took a couple days off before this event, spent it with family. I’m turning 23 on Wednesday … I don’t know what I’m going to do yet!”

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