Rianne Malixi launches her drive in the US Women’s Amateur Monday, confident of her chances but wary of a stellar field all armed with the same resolve to go for one of the biggest prizes in women’s amateur golf at Chambers Bay in University Place, Washington.
Malixi fell short of her title bid in last week’s Girls Junior PGA Championship, losing the lead midway through the final round and eventually the title to American Kaitlyn Schroeder on a two-shot swing on the final hole.
But the ICTSI-backed Malixi said she was more than satisfied with her showing at Cog Hill in Illinois and expressed confidence she’ll be playing her best this week, starting with the 36-hole stroke play elims with the top 64 advancing to the next phase where play shifts to match.
Malixi slugs it out with Americans Lauren Lehigh and Brooke Biermann at 8:28 a.m. on No. 10 of Chambers Bay, a par-73 layout which has gone through a series of changes since staging the 2015 US Open. It is expected to test the field’s length and strength with three par-5s featured on the first nine and mental toughness with its tricky surface with the wind also expected to come into play in most holes.
Two other Pinays are also in the hunt with Nicole Abelar drawing an 8:17 a.m. start, also on the first hole, with Aliea Clark and Kaleiya Romero, both of the US, and Tomi Arejola teeing off at 8:20 a.m. with locals Claire Wright and Emily Dunlap.
The rest of the 156 starting field, made up of the best female amateur golfers in the world, are also coming into the event determined and ready, ensuring a spirited chase for spots in the knockout rounds for a crack at the championship.
They include defending champion Jensen Castle, a senior at Kentucky, and US Girls’ Junior champions Rose Zhang (2022), Lei Ye (2019) and Erica Shepherd (2017), along with Megha Ganne, Tsubasa Kajitani, Rachel Heck, Emilia Migliaccio, Brooke Matthews, Kennedy Swann and Kaitlyn Schroeder.
Castle went on a historic run last year after clinching one of the last two slots in a 12-player playoff after the 36-hole stroke play elims, winning it all as the 63rd seed.
Malixi finished at No. 58 last year then worked her way up to trounce two players ranked higher than her but fell short of her rally from three holes down in the last four with birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 and lost by one to Aussie Emily Majar.