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PH golfers right in the mix

Bianca carries fight for PH in first round with Yuka struggling, and it could prove crucial with event in danger of being shortened
/ 04:05 AM August 05, 2021

The long-hitting Bianca Pagdanganan follows her drive off the first tee in the first round. —REUTERS

The goal was to stay cool under the circumstances. So she was either putting an ice bag on her head, hydrating with a bottle of isotonic drink and even fanning herself for comfort on the sun-baked course all day.

In so doing, Bianca Pagdanganan was able to keep her composure in the terrible heat that sent even the most fit of caddies to a medical emergency, and got her wish of a respectable debut in the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday with a two-under-par 69 putting her right in the mix.

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The 23-year-old birdied three of her first five holes and made the quick recoveries when she badly needed them, including a near ace on the 16th hole to survive a brutal weather test at Kasumigaseki Country Club east course and be just three strokes off leader Madelene Sagstrom of Sweden.

Logjam of big guns

Pagdanganan joined defending champion Inbee Park of Korea and seven others in a logjam at seventh place as she carried the cudgels for Team Philippines after top bet Yuka Saso struggled with a 74 marred by two bogeys on her last three holes.

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“I think my round today was pretty good. I put myself in a good position even if I feel like I left a couple of shots out there,” said Pagdanganan, who highlighted her round with a 9-iron tee shot that almost found the hole 155 yards away for a tap-in birdie on the 16th hole.

Saso, the reigning Women’s US Open champion, was near the bottom of the 60-player field even as Sagstrom held off American world No. 1 Nelly Korda and Aditi Ashok of India with a flawless 66. Matilda Castren of Finland, Jin Young-ko of Korea and Carlota Ciganda of Spain fired 68s.

Bad weather coming

With the forecast of bad weather this weekend that officials said raises the possibility of the event being shortened to 54 holes, Pagdanganan’s big start puts her on track for a podium finish, with Thursday’s second round deemed crucial.

With storms in the forecast for Saturday and Sunday, officials will wait until after the completion of Round 2 before making a decision.

Pagdanganan and coach-caddy Carito Villaroman, who eventually needed medical help because of the heat, strategize before the tee shot on No. 8. —JONG ARCANO

Pagdanganan actually went through some anxious moments after completing the customary press interview when she learned that her coach and caddie Carito Villaroman had to request for hydration at the medical tent after a long day that saw temperatures rising to as high as 43 degrees. Caddies claimed

Earlier, the caddie of American star Lexi Thompson suddenly fell ill and had to be replaced on the 15th hole.

“I thought something bad happened to coach when I couldn’t find him after my press interviews. Just glad that it wasn’t as bad as I thought,” she said.

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Meanwhile, Saso’s first day out with her replacement caddie, national coach Miko Alejandro, saw her shoot a 74, a score that could have been a lot better if not for several putting miscues. Alejandro was put on the bag after Saso’s original caddie Lionel Matichuk, was hospitalized on Monday night due to heat stroke.

“I had some misreads[on the greens], hopefully I can get back and play better,” said Saso who finished the day in a tie for 47th. Saso was still in the middle of the pack after she narrowly missed an eagle putt on the par-5 14th to be at one over for the day. Missed green bogeys on the 16th and 17th, however, pulled her down the standings and she now needs to shoot a good recovery round to get back into contention. INQ

After briefly leading, Pagdanganan stays in top 10; Yuka struggles

Bianca Pagdanganan fired a 2-under -par 69 to stay within three strokes of the lead the the start of women’s individual golf competition of the Tokyo Olympics at Kasumigaseki Country Club Wednesday.Follow Inquirer Sports' coverage of #Tokyo2020 inq.news/Tokyo2020READ: https://sports.inquirer.net/432310/after-briefly-leading-pagdanganan-stays-in-top-10-yuka-struggles

Posted by Inquirer Sports on Wednesday, August 4, 2021

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TAGS: Bianca Pagdanganan, Golf, PH Tokyo 2020
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