Young stars have inspiring week at KPMG Women’s PGA Championship
Bianca Pagdanganan said the first time she saw three-time KPMG Women’s PGA Championship winner Inbee Park it was two years ago at an event in Singamore when she was still an amateur. She watched Park hit balls on the driving range alongside many other star-struck youngsters.
On Sunday, Pagdanganan played with Park in the final round of a major championship – in her first major, to boot.
“I can't really explain how I feel. It was unbelievable,” said Pagdanganan. “Like I would say, I don't really have the right words to express how I feel. But it's amazing just seeing her play and it's definitely inspiring.”
The LPGA Tour rookie finished T9 at Aronimink - not a bad debut at a major for the 22-year-old.
Her top-10 was her first as a professional, and her best result on the LPGA Tour.
Pagdanganan was one of three young LPGA Tour stars that notched top-10s at Aronimink Golf Club.
Lauren Stephenson, a collegiate star at the University of Alabama and a 2019 LPGA Tour rookie, finished T9 with Pagdanganan. It was her first top-10 finish at a major.
Jennifer Kupcho, a fellow star collegian like Stephenson, finished a shot lower and was T7. It was her best result at a major since she finished T2 at The Evian Championship last year.
If it’s any indication for what’s to come at KPMG Women’s PGA Championship venues moving forward, then youth will most definitely be served.
“I guess it definitely is a confidence booster knowing that I can play well in these kinds of conditions in a major event, so I'm definitely looking forward to more events this year and for years to come,” said Pagdanganan about what it meant to play so well on a major-championship stage this week.
Pagdanganan said all week she would check her phone after each round and it would “explode” with notifications.
“I guess it's just really overwhelming with all the support I'm receiving. It's been great,” she said.
Pagdanganan is the longest hitter on the LPGA Tour – averaging more than 287 yards per pop. She powered her way to back-to-back 65’s after having a tough start Thursday, a 7-over 77. She righted the ship Friday to find the weekend, and backed up her 65 with another on Saturday.
She was 3-over on Sunday, but ended her week with an emphatic birdie on the par-4 18th. She said the biggest lesson she took from the week at Aronimink was to be confident with her swing and how she played the game.
Pagdanganan admitted she was overthinking and overanalyzing during the first round when she shot 7-over par. Once she got more comfortable with her own swing and her approach to the golf course, the low scores followed.
“It worked pretty well my last few rounds,” she said. “The course is not the easiest, definitely challenging.
“I'm really proud of how I played in my first major and my first top-10 finish. So it's definitely a memorable one for me.”
The theme of the week at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship was “inspire greatness” and while Pagdanganan was herself inspired by Park a couple of years ago – who turned into her playing partner Sunday at Aronimink – she, along with young stars like Stephenson and Kupcho, are on track to inspire the next group of young women to play against their heroes.