Malixi loses lead with 76, trails by 1 in Royal Junior

Jan Veran - Philstar.com
Malixi loses lead with 76, trails by 1 in Royal Junior
Rianne Malixi
Photo release

MANILA, Philippines --  Rianne Malixi encountered challenges in a demanding second round outing, carding a 76 and dropping into a tie for second place with local standout Saito Aisa in the second round of The Royal Junior tournament now led by New Zealand’s Eunseo Choi in Ibaraki, Japan Saturday.

Malixi put up a gutsy 72 in difficult conditions on Friday to lead the stellar field by two. But the ICTSI-backed shotmaker struggled to maintain her momentum, posting a 37-39 and enabling Choi to pull ahead with a 72.

The Kiwi, who carded a 75 in the first round, thus pooled a 36-hole aggregate of 147, moving 18 holes away from clinching one of the region’s most esteemed junior championships billed as the “Gateway to the World.”

Malixi, who dropped to No. 33 in the current world amateur ranking, is seeking to redeem herself after a late-hole mishap last year. Two shots clear of the field with one hole to go, she ended up third after a disappointing finish on the closing par-4 hole where she made a 7.

Shio Chai eventually took the championship after thwarting Iijima Saori in a five-hole playoff.

However, with just one stroke behind Choi at 148, Malixi remains optimistic about her chances, hoping to claim her second international victory following her win at the Australia Master of the Amateurs Championship last January.

Aisa also matched par 72 to tie Malixi at second while India’s Avani Prashanth stumbled with a 75 after a 74 and fell to joint fourth with Korean’s Seojin Park, who shot a 71, and Yunseo Lee, who fired the tournament-best 70, at 149.

Malixi joins Choi, Aisa and Prashanth in the final group at 9 a.m.

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