Bianca Pagdanganan Headed Back To NCAA Championships For Second-Straight Year
May 10, 2017
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Bianca Pagdanganan is headed back to the NCAA Championships for the second-consecutive year after finishing two-under par and in a tie for fourth place after shooting a 72 in the final round of the NCAA Regional Championship at the University of New Mexico Championship Course in Albuquerque, N.M. on Wednesday. She finished second among golfers not on advancing teams, as the top-three qualified for the NCAA Championships. Last year, Pagdanganan was the first GU golfer, male or female, to advance to the NCAA Championships in school history.
“It feels great to make nationals again,” Pagdanganan said. “I felt a bit nervous and definitely some pressure, but coach just told me that I should have the same mindset as last year, which was to have no expectations. I need to work on my wedge play a little, but other than that, I am really excited.”
Pagdanganan opened her round by going three-under on the front nine and quickly jumping into second place. She battled on the back nine and went three-over to finish even on the day. She finished one stroke back of Martina Edberg of CSU Fullerton, who was the top individual qualifier. Albane Valenzuela of Stanford won the event at -6. Stanford, Duke, Pepperdine, USC, California, and Miami qualified as teams for the NCAA Championships. Nadine White of Campbell was the third individual to qualify, along with Edberg and Pagdanganan.
“Bianca was amazing today,” Gonzaga head coach Brad Rickel said. “She was very focused at the start and seemed to be on a mission.”
Pagdanganan came into her final round ready to go. She put together an errorless first nine with no bogeys and three birdies. She started by birdieing the par-five first for the third-consecutive day. After pars on the par-four second and fourth, and the par-three third, she recorded another birdie on the par-four fifth. Pagdanganan picked up three more pars on the sixth, seventh, and eighth holes, two par-four’s and a par-three. She wrapped up the nine with a birdie on the par-five ninth, going three-under on that hole in the tournament.
“She played a flawless first nine,” Rickel said.
The wind picked up to 25 mph on the back nine, making things extremely difficult, and Pagdanganan stumbled a bit early in her second nine, bogeying number 11 and 12, after opening with a par on the par-four 10th. She quickly recovered with a birdie on the par-four 13th. Pagdanganan went on to makes pars on the par-five 14th and par-four 15th. She had two more bogeys on number 16 and 17, but made a par on the par-five 18th to finish with the even-par 72.
“She ended up having three three-putt bogeys on the back because the wind made the approach shots difficult to land in good spots on the green,” Rickel said. “She was definitely feeling the pressure coming into the last few holes, and it reminds us that we have to continue to get better in these situations.”
Pagdanganan tied at two-under with Ana Belac of Duke, and Edberg and Tatiana Wijaya of Pepperdine finished tied for second at three-under. Pagdanganan led the tournament in eagles with two and par-five scoring at six-under overall. She finished fourth in par-four scoring at +1.
Only eight golfers fired a 72 or better on the final day, including Pagdanganan. Her overall finish of two-under tied the regional program record she set last year when she finished two-under at the regional in Bryan, Texas.
“I am so extremely proud of her,” Rickel said. “To make it all the way to the national championships her first two years is amazing. This year we will not be going there just to enjoy the experience. We will be going to compete to our highest level.”
The 2017 NCAA Championships hosted by Northern Illinois at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill. begin on May 19 with the first round getting underway at 5:30 am PST. There will be three 18-hole stroke play rounds with the top-nine individuals not an advancing teams, and top-15 teams, advancing to the round on Monday, May 22, live on the Golf Channel. The individual champion will be crowned following Monday’s 18-hole round. Live links will be posted on GoZags.com as they become available.
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