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Pagdanganan stays stagnant

Bianca Pagdanganan shoots a two-under 70 for a share of 44th place in the Fir Hills Seri Park Championships at Palos Verdes Estates. | KEVORK DJANSEZIAN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — The Philippines’ Bianca Pagdanganan fired a two-under-par 70 on Friday but hardly moved up in the leaderboard of the LPGA’s Fir Hills Seri Park Championships at Palos Verdes Estates.

The Filipino birdied the fourth, 14th and 17th to make up for bogeys on 2 and 12 and share 44th place midway through the $2-million tournament.

Malia Nam, making her second career LPGA tour start on a course she knows like the back of her hand, carded a two-under par 69 on Friday to take a one-shot lead.

Nam, who said this week she had played the par-71 Palos Verdes Golf Club course “probably over a hundred times” as a collegiate golfer at the University of Southern California, had five birdies to overcome a double-bogey and a bogey, her eight-under par total of 134 putting her one stroke clear of defending champion Yin Ruoning and Madelene Sagstrom.

China’s Yin climbed the leaderboard with a six-under par 65 and Sweden’s Sagstrom posted a 69.

“It’s funny, because in college I never really played well here,” Nam said. “This is actually the first time that I think I shot consecutively under par, so I’m a bit surprised myself.”

Sagstrom and Yin were in the clubhouse on seven-under when Nam made back-to-back birdies at the sixth and seventh to reach eight-under.

Nam, who made her LPGA debut in January with a tie for 57th at the Drive On Championship, said it was “a pretty surreal feeling” to see her name atop the leaderboard.

“Especially with all the best players in the world,” she added. “I always knew that I can play out here, but I didn’t expect it to be so quick to see my name up on the top of the leaderboard.”

Yin surged home with an eagle and two birdies in her last three holes, hitting a five-iron to six feet for an eagle at the seventh.

“Just took one bounce and bounced up, probably six feet for eagle,” said Yin, who then rolled in a 45-footer for birdie at the eighth and birdied the ninth.

“On the front nine, the fairways are wide open and I can smoke it whenever I want,” said the world number four, whose maiden LPGA win here last year was followed by her major triumph at the Women’s PGA.

“Plus, today’s pin positions are quite easy — I can be aggressive,” she added.

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