An opening 4-over 75 seemed to spell an early end for Bianca Pagdangagnan at week one of LPGA Q-Series. But the 24-year-old dug deep, firing rounds of 69-66-69 to post a four-day total of -7, finishing in the top-70 and ties at Magnolia Grove to advance to week two in Dothan, Ala. A member of the 2020 rookie class that was given a second chance at their inaugural season on the LPGA Tour, Pagdanganan was feeling the stress of being back at Q-Series, essentially having to re-interview for her job as a professional golfer.
“I'm not going to lie. I was probably a little bit stressed heading into the week. It's Q-Series and obviously, it's a big deal for me wanting to keep my card or just improving my status,” she said of her mindset in Mobile. “After the round, I spent some time thinking about my game, what I did wrong. I think I just put a little bit too much pressure on myself, forcing myself to hit good shots. I think it was a lot trying to realize that I have the game and I have what it takes. It's more just being comfortable and trusting my swing throughout the whole of Q-Series basically.”
Though she’s only in her second season as a pro, it’s Pagdanganan’s swing and the distance it produces that most golf fans are familiar with. She ranks second in average driving distance on the LPGA Tour at 284.85 yards and is usually the first name that comes up when talking about the longest hitters on Tour. The year 2020 proved more fruitful than 2021 for Pagdanganan—her best finish this season was a tie for 12th at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational—but she’s taken the struggles in stride, happy for the opportunity that two weeks of Q-Series provides.
“Last year was a learning process for me trying to see how everything works. They said they weren't going to count anything so I was like I guess we're going to have to look on the bright side. At least heading into your actual rookie year you'll have a little bit more experience. You've already seen some of the courses you're going to play so I tried to use that to my advantage,” said Pagdanganan. “This year was a little bit tougher seeing how well I played the previous year. There was a lot of pressure on myself trying to force myself to play the same way, trying to be who I was last year, trying to play great golf when I shouldn't have done that. I think it's more just trying to stay in the present, focus on what you have right now, where you are right now, and then take it from there. Just enjoy everything that you are doing.”
With dodgy weather on tap and better status on the line, Bianca has plenty to think about with 72 holes left to play at Highland Oaks. But she’s focused on the here and the now and taking things one step at a time, keeping herself mentally in check throughout the next four rounds.
“Whatever is in front of me I'll take it. These are things you can't control, and I just try my best to control what I can control, which is how I approach the situation, my emotions throughout the round, my attitude. I know that that is already a huge (lesson) that you have to learn when you're playing this sport,” said Pagdanganan. “So if it rains, we're going to have to play with whatever nature hands us. I would like to look ahead, but at the same time, with Q-Series and having four more rounds, it's all about staying present. I think my game feels good, so it's just really taking everything shot by shot.”