Malixi shares top honors in US Women’s Am qualifier


RIANNE MALIXI went on an early birdie-spree and churned out a five-under par 67 as she shared top honors with Kelly Xu of the US in the 18-hole US Women’s Amateur Qualifying Tournament at the Soule Park Golf Course in Ojai, California, last Monday.

Four others—Jeneath Wong of Malaysia and American Kellie Vongsaga, who matched 69s, and Hong Kong’s Arianne Lau and Caroline Canales of the US, who carded identical 70s—took the four other slots to the tournament proper, but the other Filipina bidder, Alethea Gaccion, failed to advance with a 72.

They will join the other top finishers from various Qualifying sites in the US Women’s Amateur slated August 7-13 at the Bel Air Country Club in Los Angeles, California. A full-packed field of 156 will be slugging it out for the Top 64 spots in the 36-hole stroke play elims before competitions shift to match play.

The ICTSI-backed Malixi’s binge actually came after she missed chances inside 10 feet on the first two holes as she holed in a five-footer on the par-3 third hole then dominated the back-to-back par-5s from No. 4 and knocked down a pair of four-footers. Her self-confidence building, she rolled in a 16-foot putt on the par-3 sixth, banged in an eight-footer on the next and drained another five-footer on No. 8.

However, a three-putt miscue on the ninth stalled her birdie-run as her first putt from way out suddenly stopped on a sloping part of the surface and her second stroke from around 14 feet veered to the right at the finish.

She slowed down a bit at the back, missing a couple of birdie chances from short range, including a four-footer on the par-5 No. 11, but rescuing three pars after missing the 12th, 13th and 14th greens as the wind picked up a bit in the closing holes.

After back-to-back regulation pars, the 16-year-old shotmaker dumped her approach shot on the right greenside bunker of No. 17 and blasted way past the hole. She missed the putt for another bogey but quickly recovered the stroke with a two-foot birdie putt on the closing par-5 hole to fashion out a 31-36 round.

Xu matched Malixi’s five-undercard to share the honors.

Meanwhile, Malixi, who reached the first round of her recent head-to-head campaign in the (British) Women’s Amateur, will prime up for the US Women’s Amateur by vying in the IMG Junior World starting July 11 at Torrey Pines in San Diego, California.

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