Oh No, Another One, This Time on the LPGA – Bianca Pagdanganan
We have just finished a week at the PGA’s U.S. Open, where a contrarian heavily invested in the science of velocity and impact taught a clinic to the golf world. The world is in such shock over the way in which the Open was won, that the talk has been revved up a notch about changing the rules. What are we going to do, make him play with one arm, or put new bunkers and ponds out at his averaging distance? It turns out DeChambeau isn’t actually the tour’s biggest hitter as an average, but you sure could have fooled me. Well, here it comes again, this time on the LPGA Tour, where feats of strength are tempered with brilliant mental play, great course management, and steel nerves. Now, meet the new long-drive leader, Bianca Pagdanganan. We’ll have plenty of time to get the spelling right. She’s a Filipino superstar in the making, at least we think she is.
How do I explain this? There’s this kid, see (apologies – everyone under 65 is a kid to me, man or woman) Anyway, this young female golfer has come out of the college ranks at the University of Arizona Wildcats. In 2018, she helped them win the NCAA with one round of 61. In another, she scored two consecutive eagles. Her driving range is 287.462, and she relents to hit a 3-wood once in a while at 245 yards. In this new world of distances, there is apparently more than one way to cover a fairway. DeChambeau, once a perfectly average looking collegian with talent, is now a self-perceived scientist. I would say that he’s getting everything he can out of science, and has come up with some successful ideas no one else believed in. In the true style of a successful scientist, he proved most of the world wrong.
Bianca Pagdanganan? Don’t look for her in a white lab coat conducting experiences between hard surfaces and pliant golf ball coverings any too soon. Don’t look for her in the library reading books on Fudd’s First Law (“If you hit something hard enough, it will fall over” or it’s golf variant, “If you hit something hard enough, it will go a long ways.”) Pagdanganan is not a scientist, and doesn’t want to be a scientist. She’s a golfer who just hits it hard and far. She didn’t triple her calorie intake and lift weights until her arms fell off. She just hits golf balls really far. Incidentally, she’s made her first four cuts on the LPGA Tour.
Seeing it through the eyes of an amateur golfer getting older by the day, someone who just wants to eke out a few more yards to make up for what time has stolen, DeChambeau is not the right model. He is to admire from afar, not emulate at the risk of all sorts of medical mayhem. However, Pagdanganan could be the standard banner for all undernourished drivers around the country. She is more of the uncomplicated mystic school – “I hit it hard as I can, and it goes far.” Oh, the joys of concise graspable wisdom.
Pagdangana’s college coach, Laura Ianello explains it. Pagdanganan hits the ball farther than almost everyone else because of “insanely fast hips.” Those of us who are not 250-pound giants are thrilled to hear that, because the fact is, she’s little! We love getting tips from little people who do what big people do. Now, I’ve tried to get the hips there earlier and faster over the past two or three years, with some success. But, it’s getting to the point that the club trails the hips and hands so far one thinks its back there waiting for a bus. To an amateur, the feeling is one of great vulnerability, but if we persist on the range, maybe that goes away and we can rely on it after a while.
Of course, there’s more to it than that, as Stacy Lewis, pregnanat at the time, demonstrated by beating Pagdanganan by six strokes after being outdriven by 50 per hole. And, when you tee it up with Brooke Henderson and some of those folks, outdriving an opponent isn’t going to happen by much.
Meanwhile, now we have another interesting couple of characters to watch, the giant and the guru. Will they find a way to stop the mad scientist, and how will Bianca do with her basic and undeniable truth about super-physical metaphysics?