The tour rookie powered her way through the second round of the 2020 LPGA Drive On Championship-Reynolds Lake Oconee with a huge 5-under 67 to catapult herself to a share of second spot with 9-under 135 total, Saturday morning (Manila time) in Greensboro, Georgia. She still won $83,557 or P4,027,447.4.
If she gets to bag the LPGA Driving On, it would highlight an eventful past year for her, which includes her winning a gold medal for the Philippines in the 30 Southeast Asian Games. She finished her final round bogeyless, but her flawless outing-capped by back-to-back birdies on the par-3 17th and par-5 18th- just couldn't push her over the top.
Former world No. 1 and two-time major victor Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand is in joint sixth with Mina Harigae and Brittany Altomare at 208, while at ninth-12th are multi-titled Lydia Ko of New Zealand, Megan Khang and Angel Yin of the U.S., and Swedish Pernilla Lindberg at 209. "It's definitely towards the top that's for sure", McDonald said. McDonald's best prior LPGA finish was third at last year's Shoprite Classic.
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"I'm still happy with how I played and where my game is going".
Pagdanganan stuck with Thailand's Ariya Jatanugarn and the season points leader Kang in second place.
"I'm excited with the position I'm in", McDonald said. "I just told myself to calm down and do what I've been doing every single round, and that is just trying to execute my game plan, control what I can".
The Drive On Championship was created to fill in a gap between USA events after the LPGA's usual Asian swing was wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic.
McDonald wins in Georgia while Meadow and Maguire finish with mixed final rounds
Pagdanganan completed a birdie, birdie finish to secure a podium finish on 14 under, and Kang tapped in for her birdie to leave the stage clear for an emotional McDonald to safely two-putt for the winning par.
When McDonald chipped to three feet and sank a par putt at 16, she reclaimed a four-stroke lead.
Ko had six birdies in her third round on Sunday (NZT), with her solitary blemish a double-bogey six on the par-four fifth hole.
Her patience and perseverance finally paid off on the 17th when she gunned down a 15-footer, much to her relief.
She registered three birdies, including back-to-back ones in the 5th and 6th holes for a 6-under heading into the back nine. McDonald put her approach onto the green at the last and Kang lofted her eagle attempt so it barely missed the edge of the cup.
McDonald bogeyed the first hole and made a big mid-round run with five birdies in an eight-hole stretch.
"People out here are really supportive and they've been kind of boating or jet skiing from hole to hole", Kang said.
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