By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
FILIPINO golfer Bianca Pagdanganan’s journey in the sport took on an added dimension as she was recently tapped as an ambassador of Smart Sports.
It was a development that the pro golfer and 2018 Asian Games gold medallist said she welcomes, viewing it as an opportunity to do what she is passionate about but with more purpose.
“For me, this is something important. It’s something I believe in. When I play golf, when I’m out there on the Tour, I don’t only think of myself. I want to have a purpose. I want it to have a meaning,” said Ms. Pagdanganan, 23, at the virtual press conference on Tuesday announcing her addition to the Smart Sports family.
“I want the younger generation to have someone to look up to. When I was starting, I did not have that. I want them to believe that if they put in the work, they can also compete on the big stage against the best golfers in the world,” she added.
In Smart Sports, Ms. Pagdanganan joins other athletes like weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz and gymnast Caloy Yulo who the group is rallying behind in line with its mission of using sports in nation building and to inspire as many people as possible.
Also in the press conference was Smart head of sports Jude Turcuato.
Ms. Pagdanganan is coming off a solid run in her rookie season on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour in 2020.
She finished in the top 10 in two tournaments she competed in and earned a spot in the US Women’s Open in December. She has career earnings of $203,775 to date.
Looking back, Ms. Pagdanganan said her first year as a professional was a memorable one, full of lessons which she hopes to build on.
“My first year was exciting. I was nervous, of course, because I’m on a bigger stage and playing against the greatest golfers in the world. But that was part of the challenge, trying to believe in yourself and being comfortable with those surroundings against these veterans who’ve been in the Tour for years,” said University of Arizona standout Pagdanganan of her experience.
“It was more of a mental thing. College prepared me for all the travelling and time management. It was more of the mental challenge for me, trying to believe in myself. Eventually, though, you just get used to it. And you start to realize that you have what it takes to play the game.”
Ms. Pagdanganan is now girding for new challenges and quests in her career.
She begins her 2021 campaign next month, competing in the World Golf Championship set for Feb. 25 to 28 in Florida.
Playing for the Philippines in the rescheduled Olympics is something she is also keenly eyeing.
“Playing for my country is always one of the greatest things that golf has given me. Not everyone is given that chance. It’s different when you’re playing for something bigger than yourself. Playing in the Olympics has always been a goal of mine,” she said.
Ms. Pagdanganan is looking to maintain her spot inside the top 60 in the Olympic golf rankings to earn a spot in the Tokyo Games.
As per the latest rankings, she is number 41. Fellow Filipino golfer and her Asian Games teammate Yuka Saso, meanwhile, is at 21.