Romero Beats Malixi on Last Hole of 74th USGA Girls Junior Championship

Kiara Romero of San Jose had some anxiety looking over her final putt.

However, Romero sank the seven-footer for par on the 36th and final home to claim a 1-up victory over Rianne Malixi of the Philippines to win the 74th United States Golf Association Girts Junior Championship on the Blue Course  at Eisenhower Golf Club on the grounds of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“My heart was racing,” said Romero, whose last big victory came in the 2021 Polo Junior Classic after winning several American Junior Golf Association events. “I didn’t really think about how it was going to be determining the match and stuff, I just tried to focus on putting a good stroke on it.

“I’m just so excited and super tired, I mean, it’s been a long day and a long week, and I’m really glad I got it done. But I don’t think it has really sunk in yet. With golf, you never know what’s going to happen.

“You just have to stay calm and focus really hard. I knew this 36-hole match was going to be a grind, so I just really tried to focus on hitting the fairway, hitting the green and then getting close to making a birdie. And if it didn’t, I had to just stay patient.

“I’m super excited to go off to college and this has definitely given me a lot of confidence. I know I can compete against some of the best girls in golf.”

Malixi, 16, who was trying to become the second player from the Philippines to win this championship following Mary Superal in 2014, never trailed in the morning 18 of the final, building as much as a 2-up advantage before missing a short putt to lose the 18th hole and carry a 1-up lead into the lunch break.

Romero didn’t take her first lead of the day until the 26th hole when Malixi could not get up and down for par from a greenside bunker.

On the par-4 36th hole, Romero’s uphill 9-iron approach from 155 yards flew past the flagstick and onto the fringe. Her delicate recovery shot trickled seven feet past the hole. Malixi found the green but had a 30-foot downhill, right-to-left breaking birdie putt that slid five feet by the hole.

When Romero made her putt and Malixi missed, and it was over.

“It was totally a grind,” said Malixi, who won the 2022 Singha Thailand  World Championship. “I didn’t really have my ‘A’ game today. Right before the afternoon match, I really had bad acid reflux. It was better throughout the (afternoon), but then golf wasn’t nice to me today. Still, I put up a big fight.”

In the semifinals, Romero defeated 2022 runner-up Gianna Clemente of Eserto, Fla., 2 up, and Malixi got past Leigh Chen of Irvine, 4 and 2.

Romero, a recent graduate of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose who will be a freshman at Oregon in the Fall, joined the illustrious list of winners of the USGA Junior Girls Championship that includes Marlene Bauer, who won the first event in 1949, Mickey Wright, JoAnne Gunderson (Carner), Margaret Smith, Hollis Stacy, Nancy Lopez, Amy Alcott, Heather Farr, Pat Hurst, Michelle McGann, Brandie Burton, Emilee Klein, Kellee Booth, Kelli Kuehne, Beth Bauer, Leigh Ann Hardin, In-Bee Park, Julieta Granada, Jenny Shin, Lexi Thompson, Ariya Jutanugarn, Minjee Lee, Yealimi Noh, Erica Shepherd, Rose Zhang and Yana Wilson.

For complete results, visit:

Related Articles

Stay Connected


Latest Articles