Golf: Malixi optimistic ahead of LPGA Tour debut


Posted at May 31 2023 10:21 PM

Rianne Malixi (right) with 2021 US Women's Open champion and ICTSI stablemate Yuka Saso. Handout photo.
Rianne Malixi (right) with 2021 US Women's Open champion and ICTSI stablemate Yuka Saso. Handout photo.

Young Filipina golfer Rianne Malixi hopes to make the most of her first foray in an LPGA Tour event, determined to come out of the Mizuho Americas Open as an improved player.

The $2.75 million event, one of the biggest in the sport outside of the major championships, unfolds on Thursday at the Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey with the world's leading players bannering the field.

"Playing an LPGA event alongside the top pros would be a great opportunity for me to learn and gain experience," said the ICTSI-backed Malixi, one of the invited players from the AJGA (American Junior Golf Association) to the 12th leg of this year's LPGA Tour.

The event will provide the chance for 24 of the top AJGA players to compete alongside the 120-player LPGA field for their own individual title.

Play will be under the Stableford scoring format.

This marks the first time the LPGA and the AJGA have partnered to showcase the current stars competing with the future of the sport, paving the way for an unprecedented week of learning and access to inspire the next generation of LPGA Tour players.

They get to pit talent and skills against the world's best in the last two rounds.

This year's LPGA's two-time winners and current world No. 1 Jin Young Ko of Korea and No. 4 Lilia Vu of the US headline the field that includes world No. 3 Lydia Ko of New Zealand and fellow major champions Brooke Henderson of Canada, Aussie Minjee Lee, 2021 US Women's Open titlist Yuka Saso and former world No. 1 Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand.

Malixi, a two-time AJGA winner who has won several titles on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour, is coming off an impressive performance in a pro event, the Beaumont Emergency Hospital Open of the Women's All Pro Tour, in Texas last week. There, she turned in the best final round score – 66 – to finish solo third in the 72-hole championship.

Currently at No. 2 behind Gianna Clemente in the AJGA rankings, Malixi hopes to ride on that momentum when she launches her campaign in the world's premier circuit, which also serves as part of her buildup for the US Women's Open eliminations on June 7 in Chicago.

The 16-year-old rising star is also set to compete in the British Women's Amateur on June 13-18 in England.

Meanwhile, former amateur hotshot Rose Zhang of the US will also make her keenly awaited pro debut in the Americas Open. The 20-year-old will abandon her record 141 weeks as the world's top-ranked amateur.