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CAUGHT IN THE RAIN — Amid gloomy season, Pagdanganan opens Portland bid with 67


‘We were warming up and it started to drizzle a little bit, and I don’t think it ever stopped honestly.’

LONG-HITTER Bianca Pagdanganan finds a bright spot through cloudy skies. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF

The inclement weather in Portland on Thursday dramatized life for struggling players in the LPGA Tour. Especially for young Filipina like Bianca Pagdanganan.

Damp, cold and battling her way against giants, the 25-year-old Pagdanganan kept her spirits up, firing a five-under 67 to stay within four strokes off the leader Perrine Delacour of France at Columbia Edgewater Country Club.

Pagdanganan, who made a name for herself because of her booming drives, has been shuttling back and forth the LPGA and the lower-tier Epson Tour the past year after losing her card in the big league.

“We were warming up and it started to drizzle a little bit, and I don’t think it ever stopped honestly,” Pagdanganan said about the weather. “It was pretty tough. I think I slipped a couple times.”

Dottie Ardina wasn’t as lucky as she carded an even par 72 for a share of 86th place in the $1.5-million tournament.

Despite having her patience tested by the trying conditions, Pagdanganan recorded five birdies in a six-hole stretch to go out in 31.

And although she hit just half the fairways and half the greens in round one, she gave up only two bogeys on the day at Nos. 10 and 18 and was brilliant on the greens. She needed just 23 putts on day one at Columbia Edgewater Country Club.

“I just waited for putts to drop and turned out pretty good,” said Pagdanganan about her success on Thursday. “I have been working a lot on my putting, short game, so it’s nice to see the hard work pay off.”

Given the challenging conditions on Thursday, the 23 putts were an encouraging sign for Pagdanganan who said she felt like her game has turned a corner in recent weeks.

“I feel like the last event, too, I was hitting it pretty good, so it was just more waiting for my time,” Pagdanganan said about staying patient with herself and her game. “It’s just really putting in the effort and the time to get better.”

This isn’t the first time that Pagdanganan has found success in Portland. Just last season she carded a final round of 63 to jump inside the top 20 for the week, which marked one of the few bright spots in what was otherwise a challenging season, and marked her only made cut in the span of six events.

The Portland Classic marks Pagdanganan’s seventh start this year on the LPGA Tour, having played the bulk of her year on the Epson Tour where she’s made 10 starts.

Her season-best finish on Epson is a tie for eighth at the Copper Rock Championship, and on the LPGA her best showing was in the team event, the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, where she teamed up with this week’s defending champion Andrea Lee. The duo finished tied for ninth.


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