Malixi moves into Western Am quarterfinals

RIANNE MALIXI came away with a pair of tough victories to advance to the quarterfinals of the Women’s Western Amateur Match Play phase marred by the early exit of low medalist Sadie Englemann in Northfiled, Illinois, on Thursday.

Annabelle Pancake, who snatched the last spot at No. 32 after the 36-hole stroke play qualifier, stunned Englemann right in the first round of the knockout phase, 2&1, then went on to rout No. 17 Casey Weidenfeld, 5&4, and clinch the first seat in the Last 8.

Malixi, who finished No. 2 in the eliminations, dispatched local bet Megan Furtney, 2&1, in morning play then subdued Taiwanese Jo Hua Hung, 3&2, to seal a quarters showdown with No. 26 Marissa Wenzier of Ohio.

The International Container Terminal Services Inc.-backed shotmaker took command of her duel with Furtney early, taking the third hole despite a bogey and going 3-up with pars on Nos. 4 and 6.

Furtney did fight back to within one hole with a par-birdie card from No. 9 but Malixi won the next two and held on to victory with clutch pars on Nos. 16 and 17 after the former birdied the 15th.

In the afternoon Sweet 16 stage against the No. 18 Hung, Malixi also went 3-up after five holes, but the Taiwanese, who nipped Natasha Kiel, 2&1, in morning play, won Nos. 8, 10 and 11 on the Filipina ace’s miscues to force an all-square match.

Malixi, however, checked her skid and birdied No. 12 to regain control then gained another hole on the next on her rival’s bogey and went 3-up with a par on the par-3 No. 15. She then matched Hung’s par on the next to wrap up the match.

Malixi, a two-time winner on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour and on the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) circuit, faces Wenzier in the quarterfinals Friday morning with the semifinals set in the afternoon.

The finals will be played Saturday.

Pancake, meanwhile, takes on No. 9 Chloe Schiavone, who foiled Jennifer Herbst of Australia, 1-up, in the first round then repulsed fellow Floridan Ashley Kozlowski, 2&1.

In other quarterfinals pairing, No. 4 Brooke Biermann of Missouri battles No. 28 Caroline Smith of Illinois, while No. 22 Grace Curran, also of Illinois, will take on the winner of the Maddison Hinson-Tolchard-Taglao Jeeravivitaporn of Thailand Sweet 16 match being played Friday.

Malixi, coming off a victory in team play in the Wyndham Cup of the AJGA last year, is seeking to become the first Filipina to win the event after Mikha Fortuna fell short of her title bid in the 2016 championship.a

Ladies Professional Golf Association and Epson Tour campaigner Dottie Ardina also finished runner-up twice in 2010 and 2011.