Rianne Malixi birdied four of the last 10 holes and shot a 67 to salvage a third-place finish in the Albane Valenzuela Girls Invitational topped by American Jaclyn LaHa in wire-to-wire fashion in Mesa, Arizona Sunday.
Malixi appeared headed for a so-so finish with a one-birdie, one-bogey card after eight holes but gained some spark after birdying the ninth of the Longbow Golf Club layout. She hit back-to-back feats from No. 12 then holed out with another birdie, her 34-33 card giving her a 54-hole total of five-under 208.
It featured a similar four-under card in the first round before the young ICTSI-backed star hobble in the second round with a 74 and slipped from joint second to a share of fourth, eight strokes off LaHa.
That all but scuttled Malixi’s bid for a second American Junior Golf Association after ruling the Thunderbird All Star in a three-way playoff in Phoenix last April.
The Californian, in contrast, sustained a big opening 66 with a 67 then coasted to a trouble-free win at 202 after a 69 for her first AJGA victory.
Catherine Rao, also from California, posted the tournament-best 64 as she came out of nowhere to snatch runner-up honors at 207.
Next up for the two-time Ladies Philippine Golf Tour leg winner is the US Girls’ Junior Qualifying on June 6 at the El Dorado Country Club in McKinney, Texas where she and Mafy Singson will seek to regain the crown won by ICTSI teammate Princess Superal in 2014, also in Arizona.