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Malixi fights back with 69; Gabasa cards 71

MANILA, Philippines – Rianne Malixi finally put in the kind of round sorely missing in the first two days of the Espirito Santo Trophy, coming away with a three-under 69 in a rebound that however came in a little bit late for the country’s leading player in the ranks.

Counting a 71 from the steady Junia Gabasa, the Philippines bounced back with a four-under 140 after a 146 and, counting their opening 143, the Filipinas assembled a 429 aggregate at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club to move up one spot to provisional No. 16 in team competition of the World Amateur Team Championship in United Arab Emirates.

Half of the 36-team field, including frontrunners Thailand, Korea and Spain, still have to finish their respective rounds at presstime.

Gabasa, who sizzled with a 69 in the first round but faltered with a 73 Thursday, pooled a 213 total and stood at clubhouse joint 17th in individual play.

The ICTSI-backed Malixi improved to tied 39th with a 217, her bid stymied by a pair of 74s, while Grace Quintanilla, who counted for the team with a 73 in the second round, also posted another 73 but didn’t count in the three-to-play, two-to-count format event.

Gabasa broke a one-birdie, one-bogey card at the front with birdies on Nos. 12 and 14 but missed preserving a two-under card with another mishap on No. 15 before playing the last three holes on even par for a 36-35.

Due for a big outing, Malixi snapped a run of seven pars with a birdie on the eighth. She picked up another stroke on No. 10 and went three-under with another feat on the 13th.

A bogey on No. 15 stalled her charge although Malixi, who has moved to No. 67 in the world amateur rankings, regained the stroke on the next before holing out with a bogey-birdie run for a 35-34.

Meanwhile, Thai Navaporn Soontreeyapas regained the individual lead with a running 10-under overall total after 10 holes with India’s Avani Prashanth and Spain’s Cayetana Fernandez Garcia-Poggio in joint second with nine-under after 15 and 10 holes, respectively.

Spain also took control of the individual lead with a 16-under total after 12 holes, one stroke ahead of Korea, which pooled a 15-under aggregate after 14 holes with Thailand in third with