Change of Greenery: Bianca Pagdanganan using the warm weather to help women's golf hit its peak
The Arizona women’s golf team played its best golf of the season this March, winning back-to-back tournaments in weather-friendly locations. From tournaments in Tempe all the way to Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, University of Arizona junior and transfer student-athlete Bianca Pagdanganan played a key role in the team’s success.
Pagdanganan initially started her career at Gonzaga, where she earned Co-WCC Freshman of the Year honors in 2016 and became the first Bulldog to reach an NCAA Regional or Championship in program history. Trading the rainy Northwest for the sunny desert is something that played a key part in her decision to transfer.
“I really wanted to be able to play outdoors,” Pagdanganan said. “It was kind of difficult to do at Gonzaga, and now I’m able to every day.”
The sudden weather change wasn’t the only difference Pagdanganan had to adjust to. Gonzaga has a student population of around 7,000, while the University of Arizona has more than 40,000 students.
“I wasn’t used to being in a big school,” Pagdanganan said. “Last semester, I had a class with over 150 students, which was something I hadn’t really seen up there.”
Before taking her talents to the Pacific Northwest, Pagdanganan was born in the Philippines and got into the sport early on because of her father.
“He would always golf over the weekends, which made me curious,” Pagdanganan said. “One day, I asked to go to the driving range with him and he let me hit a few golf balls, and it took off from there.”
Pagdanganan admitted that it was challenging to build camaraderie as a transfer student, but the team has bonded and grown late into the season. Her goal in coming to Arizona wasn’t only a chance at warmer weather — it was a chance to be part of something special.
“I set a goal to make it to nationals as a team,” Pagdanganan said. “I feel like the dynamic is different than making it as an individual, and winning the national championship as a team is something everyone wants to be part of.”
Even though she’s been around golf for quite some time, she may be just starting to hit her peak.
In her first tournament at Arizona in September, Pagdanganan won the Dick McGuire Invitational. She has two top-10 finishes this season and has continued her strong play late into the season. Arizona is playing its best golf all season, which is a good sign considering the Pac-12 Championship is less than a month away, followed by NCAA Regionals in May. Although for Pagdanganan, her and the team’s success is no surprise.
“I try to focus more during practice and take things even more serious,” Pagdanganan said. “One of our goals as a team is to win regionals and nationals, and I try to tell myself that if I want to help the team I have to start with myself.”
Pagdanganan has her sights set on a pro career after graduating, and will participate in some amateur events back in the Philippines during the summer. Until then, she will look to finish the season out strong with the rest of the Wildcats, as they have one more event before the Pac-12 Championships in April.
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