ILOILO CITY – Rianne Malixi put up a flawless closeout and pounced on Daniella Uy’s flawed finish as the country’s top amateur nailed another pro victory in the ICTSI Iloilo Golf Challenge presented by MORE Power with a solid 66 to beat Chihiro Ikeda by four here yesterday.
It took Malixi just nine holes to overcome Uy’s overnight six-stroke lead at the Iloilo Golf and Country Club as the former rattled off three birdies inside 6 feet for a 33 and the latter crumbled with an uncharacteristic 41 marred by a disastrous triple-bogey on the first hole.
That set the tone for the rout as Malixi, 16, stayed focused and kept her poise in the last nine holes, birdying the 16th for good measure to complete a four-under card and a 209 total after 70 and 73 in the first two rounds of the P875,000 championship.
The victory thus snapped Malixi’s run of fruitless campaigns here and abroad that saw her miss a podium finish in the recent Queen Sirikit Cup at Manila Southwoods after yielding the bronze to Korean Hyunjo Yoo in the countback, and ending up tied at 13th in the Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific Championship in Singapore.
She also struggled in the first of the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour’s two-leg Visayan swing where she wound up a distant joint third at Marapara and appeared headed for another unsuccessful stint this week after trailing Uy by six with 18 holes left to play in the P875,000 championship.
But after watching Uy fumble with a triple-bogey mishap on the first hole, she knew she had a chance.
“I wasn’t really thinking about what the others were doing but heading to the last round, I knew I had a chance,” said Malixi. “I just had to play my shot the best way I know how and I think that was the key.”
Ikeda likewise waged her own battle from 12 strokes down in an earlier flight, producing a tournament-best 64, also in bogey-free fashion, but the reigning LPGT Order of Merit champion could only finish second at 213.
But Ikeda’s final round rally netted her the top P105,000 prize as Malixi, who swept all her three events in last year’s LPGT, took home the championship trophy.
“This win is huge because my mom is here, so then my coach-caddie (Rick Gibson), who was with me the past two weeks,” said Malixi “But the key was being consistent and trying to be patient all the way through.”
Sarah Ababa also fought back with a 69 to snare third place at 217 and pocketed P74,375 for the second straight week, while Pamela Mariano also closed out with a one-under card to tie Uy at 218. They split the combined P114,625 prize.
Uy never recovered from a five-over frontside and made another triple bogey on No. 11 then yielded three more strokes in the last four holes for a birdie-less 81. She tumbled to joint fourth.