MANILA — Rianne Malixi got off to a fantastic start, scoring a five-under 67 to tie for first place with Kelly Xu of the US in the 18-hole US Women’s Amateur Qualifying Tournament held at Soule Park Golf Course in Ojai, California on Monday.
Joining them in the tournament proper are Jeneath Wong from Malaysia and Americans Kellie Vongsaga, who both shot 69s, as well as Hong Kong’s Arianne Lau and Caroline Canales of the US, who recorded identical scores of 70. Unfortunately, Alethea Gaccion, another Filipino participant, failed to advance after shooting a 72.
These qualifiers will join other top finishers from various qualifying sites in the US Women’s Amateur, scheduled for August 7-13 at Bel Air Country Club in Los Angeles, California. A field of 156 players will compete for the top 64 spots in the 36-hole stroke play elimination round before transitioning to match play.
Supported by ICTSI, Malixi’s impressive performance came after missing opportunities within 10 feet on the first two holes. She found her rhythm by sinking a five-footer on the par-3 third hole, followed by dominant play on the consecutive par-5s from the fourth hole, where she nailed two four-footers. Building on her self-confidence, she drained a 16-foot putt on the par-3 sixth, an eight-footer on the next hole, and another five-footer on the eighth.
However, her birdie run hit a snag on the ninth when a three-putt error interrupted her flow. Her initial putt from a long distance stopped abruptly on a sloping part of the green, and her second stroke veered to the right at the finish from around 14 feet away.
She slightly slowed down on the back nine, missing a couple of birdie chances from short range, including a four-footer on the par-5 11th. Despite missing the 12th, 13th, and 14th greens, she managed to salvage three pars as the wind picked up in the closing holes.
After two consecutive regulation pars, the 16-year-old golfer found herself in trouble on the 17th hole, landing her approach shot in the right greenside bunker and blasting it past the hole. She missed the subsequent putt, resulting in a bogey, but swiftly recovered with a two-foot birdie putt on the final par-5 hole, concluding her round with a 31-36 score.
Xu matched Malixi’s impressive five-under score, sharing the top honors with her.
In the meantime, Malixi, who recently reached the first round of the (British) Women’s Amateur Championship, will prepare for the US Women’s Amateur by participating in the IMG Junior World starting on July 11 at Torrey Pines in San Diego, California.