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Sports

Thai romps way to crown, Malixi ties for 13th

Jan Veran - Philstar.com
Thai romps way to crown, Malixi ties for 13th
Rianne Malixi
Photo release

SINGAPORE — Thai Eila Galitsky capped her breakthrough victory in the Women's Amateur Asia Pacific Championship in smashing fashion, birdying three of the last four holes in scorching heat to dash whatever hopes her chief rival Minsol Kim of Korea had for a comeback, closing out with a 68 and beating the Korean world No. 14 by five shots on a 14-under 274 total.

Kim shot a 70 for second at 279 while compatriot Yeji Park also carded a two-under card to tie Hong Kong’s Sophie Han and Kiwi Fiona Xu, who matched 71s, and world No. 5 Yuna Araki from Japan, who matched par 72, at 282, at the Singapore Island Country Club's The New Course.

Rianne Malixi’s WAAP campaign that gained tracks midway through the 72-hole championship ended in shambles with a late wave of bogeys as she fumbled with a 73 and wound up joint 13th at the Singapore Island Country Club here Sunday.

While Galitsky fell short by three to Yuka Yasuda’s record eight-stroke triumph over inaugural champion Atthaya Thitikul in the 2019 edition of the annual championship in Japan, Galitsky succeeded in foiling the Koreans’ bid to sweep two major events here following JinYoung Ko’s triumph in last week’s Women’s World Championship at Sentosa.

More importantly, the victory gave Galitsky’s promising career a big shot in the arm as she claimed spots in this year’s three Major championships on the LPGA Tour, including the Chevron Championship in Texas next month, the Evian Championship in France in July and the AIG Women’s Open in England in August.

It also netted her invites to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur later this month in Georgia, the Hana Financial Group Championship and the Women’s Australian Open.

The 16-year-old Galitsky also looks to gain much on her current world No. 193 ranking while expecting to get stronger and better when the blue-ribbon event returns to Thailand in February 2024.

Malixi also gave herself a shot at the crown when she bounced back from an opening 74 with a second day 67 to move within five strokes off then leader Kim. But she struggled with her putting in the pivotal round and limped with another two-over card to all but bow out of the title chase in the region’s premier championship where she tied for third in Thailand last November.

The ICTSI-backed shotmaker actually mounted an early charge in the final round, birdying two of the first three holes that sparked hopes for a big windup that has marked her past overseas campaigns.

But after missing her chance on the par-5 No. 4, her game went on a downswing, dropping a stroke on the fifth and settling for a run of pars before stumbling with another mishap on the 11th.

After two pars, she reeled farther back with back-to-back bogeys but birdied the closing par-5 hole to salvage a 73 for a share of 13th at even 288 with Aussie Caitlin Peirce and Chinese Yahui Zhang, who matched 71s, and Zixin Ni, also from China, who fumbled with a 73.

In contrast, Lois Kaye Go holed out with a double-bogey 7 and ended up with 75 for joint 32nd at 294.

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