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Malixi upbeat, ready vs world's best

MANILA, Philippines – Among the elite field in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, Rianne Malixi stands out, not for a storied resumé, but for her remarkable talent and determination to claim the prestigious championship.

The fifth edition of the event reels off on April 3 in Augusta, Georgia with a blend of seasoned talent and fresh ambition coming together on one of women’s amateur golf’s grandest stages.

It will see the return of 43 veteran players, including 37 from the 2023 roster. Among them are seven Top 10 finishers from last year, like third placer Andrea Lignell, along with Cayetana Fernandez Garcia-Poggio, Latanna Stone, Yuna Araki, Megha Ganne, Jennie Park and Caitlyn Macnab, all aiming for the top prize.

The competition is stiff, with notable names like Ingrid Lindblad, Kajsa Arwefjall, Carla Escuder, Helen Briem, Hannah Darling, Francesca Fiorellini, Eila Galitsky, Charlotte Heath, Maddison Tolchard, Chiara Horder and Saori Iijima also in contention.

Despite facing a cast so rich in experience and success, Malixi enters the fray undeterred. The ICTSI-supported prodigy, who finished runner-up in last year’s US Girls’ Junior, is ready to face the challenge, bolstered by solid performances early in the season.

With four Top 8 finishes, including a victory in the Women’s Australian Master of the Amateurs in January and a second place effort in the Girls’ Junior Invitational at Sage Valley in South Carolina two weeks ago, the 17-year-old is poised for success.

But it will take a lot of hard work, plus luck, to emerge victorious on Saturday given the depth of the competing field and the challenges lurking at the Champions Retreat Golf Club and on every corner of Augusta National.

The 72-player field, composed of 36 Americans and 36 Internationals, will play two rounds of stroke play at Champions Retreat Wednesday and Thursday. The Top 30 players will then proceed to the iconic Augusta National for the final round on Saturday.

A victory promises not just glory but also invitations to some of the most top-notch tournaments in women’s pro golf, including the 2024 US Women’s Open, the 2024 Womens’ Open, the 2024 Chevron Championship, the 2024 Evian