Rianne Mikhaela Malixi got off to an explosive start, collecting 18 points in three 9-hole matches to pace her group in the PXG Women’s Match Play Championship at the Slammer & Squire course of the World Golf Village in Jacksonville, Florida Monday.
The 14-year-old amateur, playing against the pros for the first time, battled Aneta Abrahamova of Slovakia into a tie in the first match before sweeping Danielle Bambola and Elizabeth Moon.
She will go into the next set of matches againsta the same opponents on Tuesday with a 2.5-point lead over Abrahamova in Pod H.
The unique format awards 1 point for every hole won and half-point for a tie.
“Today was a great day,” said Malixi who shared seventh place in the 36-hole stroke play preliminaries.
“I like my iron play and putting. I was able to make birdies from bunkers 30-40 yards away from the green.”
She attributed her fine play to her solid short game.
“My goal tomorrow is to stay positive and to take my time hitting shots,” she added.
Two weeks before the tournament, Malixi’s game went south as she struggled with a faulty swing and balky putter.
But her game took a 180-degree turn this week.
Playing against Abrahoma in the back nine, Malixi bogeyed the first hole, but birdied four of the next seven holes before finishing with a bogey. She made 4.5 points.
Against Bambola, Malixi did not make a single bogey while shooting an eagle and two birdies to nail 7 points.
She collected another 6.5 points against Moon after making five birdies against a bogey.
All in all, Malixi made an eagle and 11 birdies against only three bogeys, finishing 27 holes on 10-under.
Malixi leads the standings with 18 points followed by Abrahamova with 15.5, Bambola 14.5 and Moon 10.
The top finisher after Tuesday’s second round will advance into the Round of 16 knockout matches.