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Rianne recovers, fires 3-under 69

Rianne Malixi stormed back into contention, firing a three-under-par 69 in the second round of the Citrus Golf Trail Ladies Invitational at the Sun ‘N Lake course in Sebring, Florida Wednesday.

The 15-year-old phenom, hoping to improve on her No. 159 world ranking, bounced back from a poor opening round 78, shooting four birdies against a lone bogey.

She climbed from 40th to a share of seventh on 147, just five shots behind Vanessa Zhang who had a 73.

Malixi, who won’t be able to defend her national stroke play title next week, birdied 15, her opening hole from long range, nearly rolled in another birdie putt from the fringe on the next, missed another chance on 18 and left her six-foot birdie putt on the first hole short.

She hit it long on the par-3 No. 2 but banged it in from edge to edge, only to yield the stroke on the next. She, however, cashed in on the par-5 fourth for a tap-in birdie and could’ve closed in on the two-day leader if not for her missed birdie putts on 5, 7, 8 and 9.

Malixi also nearly holed it in from the fringe on 10, and settled for regulation par on the next two before picking up another stroke on 13 from seven feet before closing her round with another regulation par.

Zhang nursed a two-shot lead over Ffion Tynan and Angela Zhang who carded 70 and 74, respectively.

The 72-hole, no-cut tournament features some of the world’s rising stars.

Malixi is also set to play two more tournaments in her bid to improve her ranking — the Orlando International Amateur on 4-6 January at the Orange Country National and the Annika Invitational on 15-17 January at the Eagle Creek Golf Club also in Florida.

The ICTSI-sponsored golfer coming off a superb season where she collected three victories in the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour and finished in the Top 3 in her last seven amateur tournaments.

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