Rianne Malixi hopes to provide a stiff challenge to a slew of pros bracing for a fierce showdown in the ICTSI Midlands Classic unfolding tomorrow (Tuesday, Dec. 14) with the top amateur seeking no less than a podium finish in the season-ending event of the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour.
The 14-year-old rising star is coming off a series of stints in the US and elsewhere, including a pro tournament in Florida, making her A-ready to slug it out with the likes of Harmie Constantino, Sunshine Baraquiel, Chanelle Avaricio and Daniella Uy for a crack at a first pro crown on a course that changes in character in every swirl of the wind.
Malixi, the 2020 national stroke play champion who scored a wire-to-wire triumph in the Se Ri Pak Desert Junior of the AJGA (American Junior Golf Association), reached the Round of 32 in the US Girls’ Junior and made it to the Last 16 in the US Women’s Amateur.
She also placed joint 23rd in the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific in Abu Dhabi, put up a Top 10 finish in the Rolex Tournament of Champions and reached the quarters of the PXG Women’s Match Play of the Women’s All Pro Tour (WAPT).
Malixi is also tipped to dominate the battle for low amateur trophy in the absence of Mafy Singson, who swept the last four titles but opted to skip the season-finale to take the holiday break in Davao, and Eagle Ridge-Norman leg winner Arnie Taguines, who is indisposed.
But Eagle Ridge-Aoki top amateur Laurea Duque and Keena Puzon are also in the fold, who like Malixi, are both primed up to make a run at the overall championship in the 54-hole event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and held under the bubble setup.
But the pros are ready and equally determined to impose their class with Constantino seeking to make it three in a maiden pro campaign after sweeping the Eagle Ridge-Aoki legs, besting multi-titled Princess Superal by two last March and thwarting Singson by one last month.
Baraquiel, Avaricio and Uy are also going flat out for a stab at a second championship after scoring a breakthrough at Highlands, Riviera Couples and Riviera Langer, respectively, while Marvi Monsalve, Florence Bisera, Pamela Mariano and Apple Fudolin seek to join the roster of first-time winners in the circuit put up by ICTSI.
Spicing up the cast are former leg winner Sarah Ababa, Lovelyn Guioguio, Eva Miñoza, Shery Villasensio and Korean rookie pro Jane Jeong.
The Midlands Classic wraps up the eight-leg circuit in the extended pandemic-hit season that had two stoppages due to the spike of coronavirus cases in NCR Plus last March and July. It resumed last month with a five-leg swing with the first four producing different winners and Malixi and her fellow amateurs eyeing to grab the spotlight in the final leg.