FOR Southeast Asian Games-bound teen sensation Rianne Mikhaela Malixi, the sky is the limit as far as what she can achieve on the golf course.
And while she is not in a hurry to reach stardom, Malixi is looking forward to bringing more golfing honors to the country in the coming years.
First stop: the SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam on May 12-23.
“I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to represent our country in the SEA Games. It will be my first time and I’m really very excited,” said Malixi during the 17th “Sports On Air”program last April 23.
Malixi is confident that the Hanoi-bound national team, which also includes Lois Kaye Go and Mafy Singson, can do very well in the biennial competition billed as the “Olympics”of Southeast Asia.
“I’ve played and trained a lot with ate LK and ate Mafy for the coming SEA Games. And even before I left for the US, I’ve trained with them a few times. I also heard that they were joining workouts and they were practicing a few days a week. As for me, playing a few tournaments here in the US is also a good preparation for me heading to the SEA Games,” said Malixi, who made history by dominating the SEA Games qualifiers by 17 shots at the Luisita Golf Course in Tarlac last month.
“So, I can honestly say we have a very good team. I really think we have a pretty good chance of winning the gold for the Philippines,” Malixi told the five-man panel composed of veteran sports journalists.
The 15-year-old golf champion, who is hoping to earn a spot in the prestigious US Women’s Open, is unfazed by the challenges ahead.
“The last two wins were really confidence-booster for me,” said the ICTSI-backed Malixi, referring to her SEA Games qualifier romp and heart-stopping one-stroke victory over Princess Superal in the ICTSI- Luisita Championship.
“Right now, I hope I can secure a spot in the US Women’s Open. I know I have a very good chance of making it,” said Malixi, who is also also scheduled to compete in three AJGA (American Junior Golf Association) tournaments where she won a leg last year.
That includes the AJGA Thunderbird Junior All-Star at the Papago Golf course in Phoenix ; the Ping Heather Farr Classic April 14-17 at the Longbow Golf Club in Arizona; and the Rome Junior Classic at the Coosa Country Club in Georgia before returning home to Manila in time for the SEA Games.
Malixi claimed she is also focused on achieving better showing in the US Girls’ Junior in Kentucky in July, where she reached the Round of 32 last year; and the US Women’s Amateur in Washington in August, where she made it to the Round of 16 in 2021.
Asked about any plans to turn pro, Malixi said she is in no hurry.
“It will all depend on my performance but I’m giving myself three to four years before turning pro. I know I have to always play my A-game and be patient in most aspects of my golf game,” she explained Malixi, who credited her father and coaches Norman Sto.Domingo and Rick Gibson for helping her become a talented golfer.
“Actually, my Dad started it all. I remember nagsi-swing ang dad ko sa bahay tapos I notice him and out of curiousity, I asked me to bring me to the golf course. So he brought me to the driving range. He bought me a golf club. Then I started hitting balls on the range. Then I started to like it na kaagad.and I went playing na on the courses. Araw-araw nasa driving range ako. And that’s why the intense training started,” recalled Malixi
“Prior to my trip to the StatesI’ve trained with them a few times virtually and in-person with my two coaches. Ialso have a fitness coach provided by the Philippine team.”
Malixi’s selection by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) as one of nine talented Filipino athletes included in the Olympic Solidarity Scholarship program is another boost to her confidence.
“I’ve learned about the IOC scholarship program only a month ago. It was right after I won the pro tournament in Luisita. I was really surprised at masasabi ko talaga na napaka-swerte ko to get a support from IOC, Now I can get budget allowance per month for my training. It motivates me and inspire me to work hard and get even better,” explained Malixi. with reports from Gab Ferreras