The Olympic tournament for women's golf has finally begun, and Filipino golfers Bianca Pagdanganan and Yuka Saso are strong bets for an Olympic medal. The 20-year-old Yuka was crowned the champion of the U.S. Women's Open held at San Francisco earlier this year, the first Filipina golfer to ever achieve such a feat. This makes her a strong contender for the gold, and currently among the leaders of the pack of 60 in the first round of women's golf is Bianca Pagdanganan, a 23-year-old U.S.-based golfer who concluded the first round in the top 10.
She had a strong start at the beginning of the round, ranking first before others caught up. Here's what you need to know about the Olympic golfer who has a strong shot at a medal.
She studied at Assumption Antipolo.
Born and raised in the Philippines, Bianca graduated from Assumption Antipolo in 2015 before she went on to study in the U.S. for college.Continue reading below ↓Recommended Videos
She graduated from the University of Arizona.
Bianca graduated from the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona where she played on the Arizona Wildcats golf team. Before Arizona, she studied at Gonzaga University in Washington for two years where she also played on the school's golf team. Her transfer to Arizona was in part influenced by the warmer weather, since it meant she could play golf outdoors. While at Arizona, Bianca was nicknamed "The Unicorn" for her impressive golf skills, which helped the Wildcats win the 2018 NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championships.
Her father got her into the sport.
Like Yuka Saso, Bianca's father got her into golf at a young age. The golfer grew up in the Philippines and moved to the U.S. for college, but as a child, her father would let her tag along when he went golfing on weekends. While at the driving range, Bianca would hit a few golf balls around and eventually develop a talent for the sport.Continue reading below ↓
She's backed by MVP Sports Foundation and Razon's ICTSI.
Bianca is backed by two Filipino tycoons: PLDT's Manny V. Pangilinan through the MVP Sports Foundation and Enrique Razon through International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI).
Filipino golfer Jennifer Rosales is her golf hero.
Fellow Filipino professional golfer Jennifer Rosales is Bianca's golfing hero. The 42-year-old has been playing for over 20 years and is known as the first Filipina to win the LPGA Tour after bagging first place at the 2000 Chick-fil-A Charity Championship.
She used to practice at Camp Aguinaldo.
Growing up in Quezon City, Bianca used to frequent Camp Aguinaldo with her father when she was young. She donated to the tee boys and girls at Camp Aguinaldo at the height of quarantine as many of them have known her since childhood.Continue reading below ↓
She's good friends with Yuka.
Yuka and Bianca have frequently competed in the same tours throughout the years, and are currently the only golfers representing the Philippines in the women's event. They shared this brief video earlier today on the LPGA account.
She's only been a professional golfer for two years.
It was during her collegiate career that she was discovered and scouted. She's been competing as an amateur for years, bagging first place in the women's team event during the Asian Games in 2018, as well as third place in the individual stroke play. Bianca officially turned professional in January 2020 after earning her LPGA Tour card and has been consistently competing in LPGA Tours for two years.Continue reading below ↓
She's an advocate for women in sports.
Pay disparity between genders is a contentious topic in sports, but Bianca isn't afraid to discuss it. She shared with Tatler Philippines how "breaking down these barriers goes beyond matching up to the skills of a guy. There are other barriers that persist, like the gender pay gap, and the level of exposure or attention given not just to women's golf but to women's sports in general."
She once donated all of her prize money.
At the 2018 Asian Games, Yuka, Bianca, and Lois Kaye Go together won a total of P16.8 million after raking in the medals and monetary bonuses in the women's golf events. Bianca won bronze at the solo event and gold in the team event alongside Yuka and Lois Kaye. However, Yuka and Bianca played in the U.S. NCAA, which has strict rules regarding financial rewards for amateur players. As such, they were not allowed to accept the giant cash pool, but they did decide to donate it to the national golf program to support young Filipino golfers.Continue reading below ↓
"It was really, for me, never about the money," said Bianca to the Philippine Star. "Growing up, representing the country was really my biggest dream and goal. So I felt great to be able to do that."
She's doing just that as she competes for a prized medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Fingers crossed for her upcoming games!
How does Olympic golf work?
Unlike the Professional Golf Association (PGA) or Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), the golf tournaments at the Olympics will not eliminate the low-ranking players throughout the tournament. Instead, all 60 Olympic golfers will play all four rounds of the 72-hole individual stroke play event. The top three players will receive a medal, and if there's a tie, there will be a three-hole playoff.
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