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BYU, Pagdanganan March to NCAA Nationals

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SAN BRUNO, Calif. – West Coast Conference champion BYU marched to its first NCAA Nationals trip as a conference member while Gonzaga’s Bianca Pagdanganan made history for Gonzaga, qualifying as an individual. The Cougars used a late surge to finish sixth for the final spot in the Baton Rouge Regional and advance for the first time since 2006-07 in the process. 

Pepperdine entered the final round in the contention and moved to fourth place at one point during the final round, but could not make the program’s 12th Nationals trip. 

BYU is the first WCC women’s golf program to advance to NCAA Nationals since Pepperdine accomplished the feat in 2012, while Pagdanganan is the first individual to compete on the big stage – men or women – in Gonzaga golf history. 

The NCAA Championships will run Saturday, May 21 through Wednesday, May 25, at Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore. The first three days will consist entirely of stroke play, in which Pagdanganan will compete, while the final two will see match play to determine the team champion.

Led by a strong 3-under-par performance by senior Lea Garner, BYU women’s golf moved up the leaderboard on Friday into a fifth-place tie at the 2016 NCAA Women’s Regional being played at The University Club in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“Lea (Garner) was awesome out there today and really everyone played very solid golf,” BYU head coach Carrie Roberts said. “Once we get into our groove, we’re a pretty good team. We’ll just stick to the game plan tomorrow and go out and play tough.”

The West Coast Conference Champion Cougars enter Saturday’s final round looking to maintain their current standing among the top six teams that will advance to the NCAA Championship on May 20-25 in Eugene, Oregon.

Garner led BYU’s solid team effort on Friday with a second-round 69 on the par-72 layout. Including her first-round 73, Garner is currently tied for third overall in the individual standings at 2-under 142, six shots off the pace set by Katelyn Dambaugh of South Carolina.

“Lea’s ball striking put her in position to make putts,” Roberts said. “She gave herself opportunities and she was able to capitalize on them.”

After playing the first four holes at even par, Garner posted back-to-back birdies on the par-3 fifth hole and par-5 sixth to create some strong momentum. With just two bogeys on the day, she added three more birdies the rest of the way on holes No. 9, No. 14 and No. 17.

Garner’s teammates Kendra Dalton (1-over 73), Brooklyn Hocker (2-over 74) and Alexandra White (2-over 74) all improved upon or equaled their opening round scores while Rose Huang (6-over 78) was just three strokes off her first-round pace.  Overall, Hocker is tied for 25th individually at 4-over 148, followed by White (150), Huang (153) and Dalton (158). 

As a team, BYU put together a 2-over 290 score in Friday’s second round to improve eight strokes over the team’s 10-over 298 first-round score on Thursday. The Cougars moved up two places in the standings in a tie with Oregon for fifth place at 12-over 588. BYU is three strokes out of fourth place, held by Duke at 585, and six shots ahead of seventh place Arizona State (594). 

Led by Dambaugh’s course-record 66, South Carolina posted an 11-under-par total Friday to move ahead of Washington in the team standings at 9-under 567.  The Huskies follow at 575 with Florida in third at 580.  

BRYAN, Texas -- For the first time in school history, a Gonzaga University golfer will compete in the NCAA Championships after freshman Bianca Pagdanganan clinched a berth Saturday in the NCAA's Bryan Regional.

The Bulldog confirmed the historic berth by tying for eighth during the three-round tournament, held at Traditions Golf Club in Bryan, Texas.  It's her sixth Top 10 finish of the season and, at 2-under-par 214, tied for the fifth-lowest tournament score in GU women's golf history.

“I am super proud of Bianca,” said Gonzaga women’s golf head coach Brad Rickel. “She’s worked really hard and has been really coachable this year. She’s definitely deserves to go to Nationals. It’s a good day for her and a good day for Gonzaga women’s golf.”

Pagdanganan fought her way into an under-par front nine, birdying the par-5 eighth hole to make the turn tied atop the leaderboard. On that eighth, she pitched within a foot or two for the easy birdie. “Bianca played very scrappy golf for the first five or six holes. She didn’t hit well off the tee but fought to make par after par after par. She had some great long putts to save herself,” said Rickel.

On the par-5 10th, she took nine strokes – a quadruple bogey – but managed to fight through the final eight holes for an advancing score. After a par on No. 14 and bogey on No. 15, she picked up a crucial birdie on the par-3 16th that offset a bogey on her final hole of the tournament.

“On No. 10, Bianca hit into a hazard and had to chip out of it, and then she plugged a ball in a bunker,” Rickel said. “After that, she fought hard to keep the round in play. That she was able to advance with a quad is incredible. I’m super proud of for that.”

In all, Pagdanganan took 78 strokes (+6) during Saturday’s final round. The Quezon City, Philippines, native went into the clubhouse at 2-under for the tournament and had to wait for the team competition to wrap up before officially punching her ticket to the championships. 

PALO ALTO, Calif. – The Pepperdine women’s golf team flirted with a top-six finish for much of Saturday’s final round at the NCAA Stanford Regional, but unfortunately the Waves saw their season come to an end with a 10th-place finish.

Pepperdine wrapped up play with a three-day total of 889 (298-295-296) at the par-71 Stanford Golf Course. The Waves finished six strokes away from sixth place. Only the top six teams advanced to the NCAA Championships later this month.

The Waves outplayed their seeding, as they entered the tournament 13th of 18 teams. Pepperdine defeated four higher-ranked teams, including #18 UNLV, #21 San Diego State, #26 Texas Tech and #42 Michigan State.

Things were looking good for Pepperdine with six holes to play. Birdies by senior Marissa Chow (Honolulu, Hawai’i/Iolani HS) and freshman Patricia Wong (Walnut, Calif./Walnut HS) on 11 got the Waves back to even-par on the day. After starting the round in eighth, Pepperdine was momentarily elevated into a tie for fourth place, according to Golfstat.

But holes 13 and 14 would be the Waves’ immediate undoing, as Pepperdine’s five players posted six bogeys on the two holes, dropping the team out of the top six.

Chow concluded a tremendous four-year career with a final-round even-par 71, which moved her into a tie for 15th place with a total of 218 (71-76-71). It was a career-best NCAA Regional finish for the two-time All-American. Chow posted her 27th career top-20 finish, tied for sixth all-time at Pepperdine. She had three birdies during her final round.

Wong tied for 30th place at 222 (70-77-75), freshman Hira Naveed (Perth, Australia) tied for 42nd at 224 (77-73-74), sophomore Tatiana Wijaya (Jakarta, Indonesia) tied for 57th at 228 (80-72-76) and freshman Hannah Haythorne(Honolulu, Hawai’i/IMG Academy) tied for 70th at 231 (81-74-76).

Haythorne had three birdies and an eagle on the first hole, while Naveed had three birdies on Saturday.

Pepperdine was making its 18th consecutive NCAA Regional appearance.