Rianne Malixi embraces the challenge of inspiring future golfers
About an hour or so after finishing her round, Rianne Malixi headed out to Manila Southwoods’ practice range to hit some bunker shots.
This, despite blasting out of the trap guarding the par-5 18th green and then draining a 10-footer for birdie to close out a four-under-par 68 that left her tied for the individual lead in the 43rd Queen Sirikit Cup on Tuesday.
“That was my only good [bunker shot],” she said, laughing after her round that was tainted by three bogeys—all of them coming from the bunker.
The event, also known as the Amateur Ladies-Asia Pacific Invitational Golf Team Championships, announces itself this year as the place “where legends are born.”
It could be a perfect tournament for Malixi to polish a career that has been on a steady rise thus far. And the country’s top amateur relishes chasing a dream bigger than herself.
“My goals are not just for myself but for the next generation and for my country,” Malixi said.
“That’s why it weighs on me a lot when I don’t play my best. I end up disappointing not just myself but I feel like I’m disappointing a lot of people.”
For someone who won’t turn 16 until next month, that willingness to take on the challenge of being golf’s next star already sets Malixi apart from her peers.
“Imagine, if she doesn’t think about the outside pressure, the expectations of others, the game can become much easier for her,” said Jerome Delariarte, the former Philippine team star and champion pro who is now the Southwoods golf director. “But the fact that she’s willing to take on that role as an inspiration to others really speaks of her maturity.”
Malixi’s first round at the posh Jack Nicklaus layout may be too small a sample size, but it does give a picture of her potential. Scrambling for pars early on, Malixi buried a monster birdie putt on No. 4, “from about 30 to 40 feet,” she said.
She then canned her approach on the tough sixth hole for an eagle two.
“That was the key,” Malixi said.
Her 68, paired with the 74 of Mafy Singson, put the Philippines at 142 in the team race, just three shots off leading South Korea. LK Go’s 77 did not count.
“We are not too far behind, but there are a lot of things that we can improve on,” said team captain Ann Granada.
Malixi certainly thinks so.
“Four-under is a good start to this tournament. But I know I can do better in the next three days,” she said, after brilliant approaches all day long left her with putts from six to eight feet—except for that one on the fourth.
“I won’t try to be spectacular. I’ll just play my game,” Malixi said.
However the tournament turns out for her, Malixi is focused on the bigger picture. Collegiate golf. A pro career. Playing with the national team. More importantly, she is working hard this early to be an inspiration to future golfers, hoping to be the same aspirational figure that Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan were for her.
“I see myself [being among the best] definitely in a few years time. I just have to keep on training and getting better,” Malixi said. “I started playing at around eight and when I kept on winning tournaments, I started growing that mindset that I have to be the best not only for myself but also for future generations [of golfers].”
And while the label of being the next big thing in golf can be a burden, Malixi is only mildly fazed.
“I want to be the best that I can be. Anything can happen. I might not end up being the best or I might succeed at being the best. But I just have to work hard for [my goals].”