Thursday, December 1 2022

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Marina Alex tees off on the fourth tee during the final round of the Palos Verdes Championship LPGA golf tournament on Sunday, May 1, 2022, in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

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Marina Alex won the Palos Verdes Championship on Sunday for her second LPGA Tour title, breaking a tie with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 16th and paring the final two holes for a one-stroke win over Jin Young Ko.

Three shots behind Hannah Green entering the round, Alex closed with a 5-under 66 to finish 10-under 274 at the hilly and windy Palos Verdes Golf Club.

“The hard work paid off,” said Alex, the 31-year-old New Jersey woman who recently battled a herniated disc in her lower back. “I wasn’t sure it would happen again if I’m being perfectly honest. It was hard. We are all getting old. I’m getting old. There are so many amazing players here. The competition is really very difficult.

“So I just didn’t know if my mind and body were going to get me back into a position where I was going to be able to do it again. Today was the day.

Top-ranked Ko also shot a 66. She finished about an hour ahead of Alex at the freshman event that concluded the LPGA Tour’s two-week stay in the Los Angeles area and the swing of five tournaments on the west coast.

“My swing was definitely better than the first three days,” Ko said. “I’ve got something – I’ve found something, so hit really well today.”

Alex bogeyed the par-4 third, then birdied the par-4 fifth, par-5 seventh and par-4 eighth. She added birdies on the par-3 11th and 12th and two 40-foot-16 putts to take the lead.

“Today was amazing,” said Alex. “I’m not really here to process what happened today, but it’s been a really tough couple of years. I mean, since COVID – it’s slowed us all down.

“And then I got injured very quickly after that. I had seven months off, and it’s just been a really tough rebuild. Going into this year, I finally felt good physically, really good.

Alex also won the 2018 Portland Classic. She tied for 10th last week at the Whilshire Country Club at the Los Angeles Open.

“My goals for the year were just to love having the year, as silly as that sounds,” Alex said. “No, I really felt like this year was going to be different from previous years. I struggled last year to pick things up competitively and also physically.

Third-placed Lydia Ko (70) and Megan Khang (68) are tied for third at 8 under. Green shot his second straight 72 to tie for fifth at 7 under with Ryann O’Toole (68), Andrea Lee (69) and Annie Park (69).

Anna Davis, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur winner, closed with a 76 to finish 70th in her first start on the LPGA Tour. The 16-year-old is from Spring Valley, east of San Diego. She received a sponsorship waiver.

“It was a really fun experience, I would say,” Davis said. “Overall it was really fun. Super good experience, and it’s something I look forward to doing in my future. So glad I got to see a little preview this week.

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