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Pagdanganan's rally falls short, loses by 1 after 66

MANILA, Philippines – Bianca Pagdanganan roared with the day’s best backside 32 but still came one stroke short of her title crack as local bet Vivian Hou matched the former’s closing 66 to win the Wistron Ladies Open by one in Taoyuan, Taiwan Sunday.

Pagdanganan recovered from a mishap on No. 2 as she slugged it out with Hou shot-for-shot and putt-for-putt the rest of the way, leaving Wei-Ling Hsu, also of Taiwan, out of the title race after the erstwhile frontrunner hobbled with a frontside 37.

The ICTSI-backed Pagdanganan, who started the final round four strokes behind Hsu and one adrift of Hou, matched the eventual winner’s three-birdie binge from No. 5 as Hou took control with a 33 and the former falling two shots behind.

The duo matched birdies on the 10th but the big-hitting Filipina gained another stroke on the next to pull within one. But Hou kept Pagdanganan in check in the stretch, equaling the latter’s birdies on Nos. 14 and 18 to pound out the one-stroke victory after a pair of 33s and a 277.

Pagdanganan closed out with a 34-32 and finished with a 278 while Hsu cracked under pressure and limped with a 74 for third at 282.

Still, it was a big finish for the 25-year-old University of Arizona product, who moved into early contention with a 68 Thursday, slowed down with a 73 in the second round before bouncing back with a 71 Saturday.

But her bogey on No. 2 stymied her final round bid although she regained her rhythm and touch and strung up three straight birdies from No. 5 to take up the challenger’s role with a 34.

But Hou proved as tough as she matched Pagdanganan’s surge. Though she failed to birdie the 11th, Hou preserved her one-stroke lead with gutsy plays, matching the Filipina bet’s last two birdies, including on the closing par-5 hole in a victory that likewise spoiled Pagdanganan’s shot at a second LPGA of Taiwan title after posing a runaway victory in the inaugural Anvaya Cove Ladies International in Morong, Bataan last February.