Pagdanganan finishes third with a 70

Bianca Pagdanganan (Photo from LPGA)

Filipino rookie Bianca Pagdanganan birdied the last two holes but the effort was a little too late as the title was already in the bag of American Ally McDonald in the LPGA Drive On Championship Sunday at the Reynolds Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Georgia.

The 22-year-old Pagdanganan carded a final round two-under 70, a bogey free round where she never really made a solid case to get that breakthrough victory.

Yet, the young sensation has already made good impressions with the way she fought in a four-day battle against the biggest and brightest stars in women’s golf.

Pagdanganan put together an inspiring 68-67-69-70 for 274 in the $1.3 million event.

That gave her a career-best third place behind first-time champion McDonald, the 26-year-old who fired a final round 69 for a 272 – and a one-shot victory over fellow American and multi-titled Danielle Kang, whose 68 wasn’t enough as she finished with a 273.

That third place finish by Pagdanganan earned her a paycheck of $83,557, or approximately P4.17 million, and improved her career earnings to $186,266 since she turned pro early this year.

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.

Pagdanganan, a gold medal winner during the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia and double-gold medalist in the Southeast Asian Games here a year ago, began the last round just a shot back behind McDonald.

However, the American padded her lead to two strokes with a birdie on 4, which moved her to 14-under for the tournament, while both Pagdanganan and Kang, who birdie-bogey-birdie on 2, 5 and 6, were at 12-under.

McDonald’s three straight birdies to start the back nine allowed her to go to 17 under, and though she bogeyed on 13, she recovered with a birdie on 16 that gave her a three-shot advantage on Kang, while Pagdanganan was already five shots behind.

Mina Harigae of the USA and Spain’s Carlota Ciganda finished tied for fourth and fifth at 275, while in joint sixth are Former world No. 1 and two-time major winner Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand and Australia’s Katherine Kirk at 277.

Multi-titled Lydia Ko of New Zealand finished tied for eighth to 10th places with Finland’s Matilda Castren and American Brittany Altomare at 278