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Wunderkind Malixi touches off season with Melbourne triumph

Photograph courtesy of Master of the Amateurs/IG THINGS are looking up for Rianne Malixi after her rousing come-from-behind victory in Melbourne.

Last season wasn’t Rianne Malixi’s worst. But this year could very well be her best.

By all indications, the 16-year-old Filipina golf hotshot kicked off the brand-new year with a victory on Friday, something that escaped her in 2023.

And what an astonishing way to secure the victory.

Staying within striking distance all week, Malixi went for the kill down the stretch, besting India’s Avani Prashanth to capture the Australian Master of the Amateurs Championship with a final-round 69 at Southern Golf Club in Melbourne.

Malixi, an incoming scholar for Duke, refused to buckle under pressure, exchanging the lead with Japanese Nika Ito before quelling the challenge posed by Prasanth in the final two holes.

The ICTSI-backed star spiked her clutch performance with a 32 on the front nine, holding at bay hometown bet Lion Higo who momentarily held the leadership.

It was big boost for Malixi who only managed a runner-up last year in the United States Girls’ Championships in Colorado. She also posted six top 10 finishes the whole of 2023.

But nothing as specular as this one.

She collected a four-day total of seven-under 285 that included rounds of 70, 72 and 74.

Prashanth, who edged Malixi and a slew of Korean aces to win the individual crown in the Queen Sirikit Cup at the Manila Southwoods last year, wound up with a 70 and a 286 for second place.

Ito settled for a 71 and solo third at 287.

The victory thus primed Malixi up for next week’s Adidas Australian Amateur at the Yarra Yarra Golf Club and Keysborough Golf Club in Victoria and the Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific Championship on 1 to 4 February at the Siam Country Club in Pattaya, Thailand.

As the seventh winner of the event, Malixi also earned a slot in the Webex Players Series Hunter Valley and WPGA Tour of Australasia at the Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort in New South Wales on 15 to 18 February.

Malixi was four shots behind Higo at the end of Day 3 following a troubled round where she posted a 74. She fired 70-72 in the first two days.

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