Thursday RD 1 News and Notes: Stark, Guseva, Padganganan

Thursday RD 1 News and Notes: Stark, Guseva, Padganganan

Sweden’s Stark stays hot


After a slow start to her 2024 season, Maja Stark of Sweden is starting to produce some strong golf once again. She ran third in last month’s Ford Championship presented by KCC and headed to L.A. off a strong showing in the Chevron Championship, opening her major season by finishing second to red-hot Nelly Korda. It was Korda’s fifth consecutive victory.


Thursday at Wilshire Country Club, Stark, 24, was off and running again, starting strongly with a round of 6-under 65. She started her day with a birdie on her first hole (No. 10) and after making the turn, would finish with birdies on four of her last eight holes, shooting 4-under 31 on the front nine.


“So much more confident in my game,” she said when asked what her high finishes of late have done for her. “I still like chickened out on a couple shots today which is just like me. I feel like I've been better at not chickening out as much. Then just knowing I can be patient and not have to chase birdies to actually make them, because I think when I'm chasing birdies, that's when I make my mistakes.


“Didn't feel like I did that today. I was just kind of bobbing along, and then the putts start falling in.”


The early bird grabs the birdies


Bianca Pagdanganan has been waiting for her game to click in all at once. There are days when her ball-striking can be amazing, but she cannot get the putts to go. And when the putter heats up, it seldom seems to do so when other parts of her game are in great shape.


Thursday’s opening round of the JM Eagle L.A. Championship presented by Plastpro was one of those perfect days when everything was in sync for her, and Pagdanganan capitalized with a 4-under 67, a solid start to her week.


“I just felt good getting up at 4 a.m. this morning, which isn’t pretty ... like, doesn’t happen all the time,” she said.


“I think it’s really, really important to stay present out here. ... I think it’s more of celebrating the good and just brushing off the bad shots, and knowing you can save it from there.”


Pagdanganan made her lone bogey of the day at the par-4 eighth, where she tugged an approach and failed to save her par from a bunker. Otherwise, it was a solid round. She made five birdies in all, including three in a row starting at the par-5 13th.


“The mindset coming into today, I was so chill,” she said. “I have no idea why I was so relaxed. Sure enough, it turned into a pretty good day.”


The JM Eagle marks Pagdanganan’s seventh LPGA start of 2024, with her best finish at T-29 at the Honda LPGA Thailand.


Guseva is living her dream


It wasn’t all that long ago that Nataliya Guseva was playing at the University of Miami, where she was ACC Freshman of the Year, and now the 21-year-old Epson Tour graduate holds status on the LPGA and Ladies European Tour. So scheduling can be a challenge, sure, but on Thursday, she started nicely in Los Angeles, shooting 66 at Wilshire Country Club.


She didn’t wait too long to get going, making birdies at her opening three holes. The longest putt in the string was about 7 feet.  


“I mean, I think I feel pretty good,” Guseva said afterward. “It's always been my dream playing on LPGA, so I try not to be nervous, but for sure there could be some nerves. So I just take this pressure as a privilege, and being out here with the best players in the world is definitely a great thing to be at.


“So I'm just really happy. Yeah.”

April 25, 2024
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