By Keely Levins
While Bryson DeChambeau was boasting about his first 400-plus-yard drive, there were some big gains on the LPGA Tour, too. Bianca Pagdanganan, a rookie who turns 23 on Wednesday, has enjoyed notoriety of late by appearing near the top of the LPGA Tour’s distance rankings. She’s averaging 288.8 yards for the season, besting fellow bombers Maria Fassi (282.2 yards) and Anne van Dam (281.8 yards) to lead the tour. But at the LPGA Drive On Championship at Reynolds Lake Oconee, Pagdanganan was hitting it far—even for her.
According to the tour, Pagdanganan’s longest drive of the week came during Saturday’s third round, when she hit her tee shot on the 18th hole 317 yards. She had an iron into the green with her second shot, while others had to lay up on the closing par 5.
Pagdanganan’s father told LPGA.com that she wants to become the first LPGA player to have a driving-distance average of 300 yards. And she nearly did that at least for a week in Georgia. Pagdanganan’s first-round driving average was 300 yards (a stat computed off the average tee shots on two selected holes where all players are presumed to hit driver). She followed that with a 295-yard average in the second round, 310 yards during the third round and 293 yards in the final round. That brought her four-round average to 299.5 yards, incredibly close to the 300-yard mark.
Interestingly, Pagdanganan is hitting it far without having the benefit of height or a big athletic build similar to other long drivers on the LPGA Tour. Van Dam stands 5’10” while Pagdanganan is all of 5’5”.
Importantly, Pagdanganan, a native of the Phillipines who played on the 2018 NCAA Championship team at Arizona along with fellow LPGA rookie Haley Moore, is more than just a bomber. Her last two performances suggests she’s arrived on tour will a full game. She finished third on Sunday at the Drive On Championship, going bogey-free during her final round while finishing two shots back of winner Ally McDonald and one shot behind runner-up Danielle Kang. Before that, Pagdanganan finished T-9 at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, her first career start in a major.
“If you told me a couple years ago that I would be playing on the LPGA Tour and in this position in my rookie year I probably wouldn’t believe you,” Pagdanganan said.
Though she didn’t hit the 300-yard average in Georgia, it’s would seem to be only a matter of time before she does.