Malixi trails by 4 in US junior golf event
Rianne Malixi birdied four of the last eight holes to rescue a one-under 72 and stay within four strokes off Chinese Alice Zhao and Sophie Stevens of the United States at the start of the Annika Invitational in Orlando, Florida, last Sunday.
Faced with a three-over card after 10 holes, which included a double bogey at No. 4, Malixi produced birdies at holes 11, 12, 16 and 17 for her opening round total at the par-73 Eagle Creek Golf Club to join nine others at 13th place.
Zhao, 13, came away with a bogey-free five-under 68 while Stevens shot six birdies against a bogey as they wrested a one-stroke lead over Italy’s Francesca Fiorellini, and the American trio of Vanessa Borovilos, Ashleen Kaur and Kati Li, who matched 69s in the second leg of this year’s American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) circuit.
Lauren Kim of Canada and Czech Denisa Vodickova stood at joint seventh with 70s.
The AJGA top guns likewise put themselves in early contention with No. 1 Gianna Clemente, who became only the second player in history to qualify into three consecutive Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour events last year, shooting a 71 for a share of ninth with three others.
The 15-year-old Malixi, whose campaign is backed by ICTSI, hopes to ride on her strong finish as she competes in the second of three rounds where she hopes to gain ground on the leaders in a flight that includes Martina Yu of Canada and American Avery McCrery.