Rianne Malixi should feel comfortable in a head-to-head format as she is in medal play, seeking to cap an imposing campaign on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour in the ICTSI Villamor Match Play Invitational unfolding Tuesday, Nov. 15, at the Villamor Golf Club.
Malixi has won all her three appearances in stroke play in this year’s LPGT and is keen on ending the season with yet another championship in the knockout event highlighting the return of pro golf to new normal after the pandemic.
But the rising 15-year-old star, who missed snaring the Thailand Amateur Open in sudden death but ruled the Thai Junior World then finished second in the Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific Championship last month, is no stranger to one-on-one duels, having vied in the US Girls, the US Amateurs, the Women’s Western Amateur and the American Junior Golf Association.
That makes Malixi, who reigned at Luisita, Valley and Riviera, again the player to beat in the upcoming event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. where the top 16 players after the 11-leg LPGT dispute the top P280,000 purse in a series of face-offs spread over four days.
“I’m more comfortable in match play. I had fun experiences in my past (match play) results in the US. It’s a confidence booster since I’m familiar with this format,” said Malixi, who, however, remained cautious of her chances on the tight, challenging par-72 military layout.
“I’m not quite familiar with Villamor, which I played once when I was 9, so I’m looking forward to what the layout’s like. I believe that consistency is key especially short game,” she added.
Premium will indeed be on consistency and accuracy given Villamor’s narrow tree-lined fairways and few water hazards, bunkers and well-manicured greens plus roughs expected to grow by an inch in the tournament week.
But what makes the quaint layout, home to the Philippine Masters, worth playing is that it has transformed into one fabulous course after undergoing a facelift the last couple of years, including setting up of three new washrooms and path walks on every hole, among others, through the initiative of adviser Col. Roelito Nolasco.
Thick bushes have also been trimmed down to give players a clear view of the adjacent holes without compromising the challenges that the course present.
Meanwhile, Malixi’s fellow amateur and ICTSI teammate Mafy Singson, who also upstaged the pros to reign at Splendido Taal last May, is also beefing up the match play cast headed by this year’s Order of Merit winner and two-leg champion Chihiro Ikeda.
Completing the roster are Pradera Verde stage titlist Harmie Constantino, Sarah Ababa, Pamela Mariano, Gretchen Villacencio, Marvi Monsalve, last year’s Highlands leg winner Sunshine Baraquiel, Lovelynn Guioguio, Apple Fudolin, Eva Miñoza, Lucy Landicho, Kristine Fleetwood, Florence Bisea and Martina Miñoza.
The quarterfinals will be played Wednesday with the semis and finals set Thursday and Friday, respectively, simultaneous with the 32-player men’s competition.