Incoming Duck Kiara Romero Wins U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Oregon women’s golf incoming freshman Kiara Romero outlasted Rianne Malixi in a 36-hole battle on Saturday to win the 74th U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship at United States Air Force Academy Eisenhower Golf Club.

With UO head coach Derek Radley on hand, Romero overcame an early deficit to claim the title with a 1 up victory. The San Jose, Calif., native was 2 down through eight holes, but made birdie to win hole No. 9 and pulled back even in the match with a par at No. 10. Malixi again took a 2 up lead going into the final hole of the opening 18, but Romero came through with a par get back to just 1 down.

A par on the 22nd hole brought Romero back even, and she took her first lead with a par on the 26th hole of the day. After Malixi tied it up again two holes later, Romero made par on the 31st to move to 1 up. The two played even the rest of the way, with Romero getting up-and-down for par on the final hole to secure the championship.

Romero was the No. 3 seed in the 64-player match play portion of the tournament, after shooting 4-under par in two rounds of stroke play to finish third. She won her opening match, 2 and 1, and followed with a 3 and 2 victory, before outlasting her opponent in 19 holes to reach the quarterfinals. Romero won 3 and 1 to reach the semifinals, and then booked her spot in the finals with a 2 up victory.

Romero signed with the Ducks last November as Golfweek’s top-ranked player in the class of 2023. She is set to join the Ducks this fall for the 2023-24 season.