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Pagdanganan eyes redemption as CME Championship reels off

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Bianca Pagdanganan hopes to make the most of the rare chance to play in the final event of the pandemic-disrupted LPGA Tour season – the CME Group Tour Championship which gets under way Thursday (US Time) at the posh Ritz Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Florida.

The $3 million event features players who accumulated points at each official LPGA Tour event throughout the shortened season with the 23-year-old Filipina considering herself a bit lucky to be able to grab a spot in the stellar roster given her struggling start in her rookie campaign.

"Overall, it's been a great year for me in terms of golf and being able to get my way into the CME," said the ICTSI-backed ace whose tied for 28th effort in the LPGA Drive On Championship in Ohio last July was her best in four starts.

She, however, made quite an impression in her first Major test, ending up tied for ninth in the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, then churning out a solo third finish in the LPGA Drive On Championship in Georgia, both last October.

But the Univ. of Arizona product and 2019 SEA Games double gold medalist failed to sustain that momentum as she struggled to joint 34th in the Pelican Women’s Championship then finished 76th and last in the Volunteers of America Classic before missing the cut in the US Women's Open, her first after a run of eight consecutive cuts made.

The Tour's driving leader, however, is using that setback as motivation to do better this week. She also expressed her delight playing the Tiburon Golf Club’s Gold course, a Greg Normal-designed layout.

“I love the course. I actually enjoyed playing it,” said Pagdanganan, set to launch her drive on No. 10 at 10:17 a.m. with England’s Charley Hull and driving rival Maria Fassi of Mexico.

“I feel like some holes you got to know – pick the right spots off the tee,” she said. “Overall, I think it’s a great course. It’s in really good condition, especially with the PGA Tour having a tournament here last week. So that’s pretty cool, Yeah, going to be a fun week.”

And challenging.

For the world’s best all are in the fold, headed by world No. 1 Jin Young Ko, who churned out a strong joint runner-up finish in the US Women’s Open to clinch a berth in the blue-ribbon 72-hole championship.

Also seeing action are defending champion and world No. 2 Sei Young Kim, Inbee Park, Danielle Kang, Nasa Hataoka, Ally Ewing, Minjee Lee, Austin Ernst, Amy Olson, Angela Stanford, Stacy Lewis, Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, Jennifer Kupcho and So Yeon Ryu. (Jeanne Cortez)


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