Marina Alex had to endure one final scare from Lydia Ko, but it was short-lived. Then, she was officially a two-time LPGA winner.
Alex closed with a five-under 66 to win the Palos Verdes Championship on Sunday in California, emerging from a bunched leaderboard late to win for the first time since 2018.
“Today is amazing,” Alex said. “I’m kind of not really there yet in processing what went down today. It’s been a really tough couple of years, since Covid. That slowed all of us down, and I was injured really quick after that and had seven months off, and it’s been a really tough rebuild back. Coming into this year, I finally felt good physically.”
Alex, who started the day three shots back, grabbed the clubhouse lead at 10 under and had to wait for the last few pairings to finish before her win was finalized. Lydia Ko was in the final group and needed to hole out for eagle from the fairway on the 18th to force a playoff — and she at least made it interesting.
Ko’s shot was tracking toward the hole but came up short. It was enough to rile up the gallery, which momentarily startled Alex, who was waiting nearby but couldn’t see the finish.
“Did it go in?” she asked, in a conversation caught on the Golf Channel cameras.
“No, but she was six feet out,” she was told.
“See,” a relieved Alex said. “You never know.”
Jin Young Ko, the top-ranked women’s player, started the day in 12th place but shot 66 and had the clubhouse lead at nine under. Alex made back-to-back birdies on 7 and 8 and again on 11 and 12 to get to nine under, but she took the lead and held it for good when she birdied the par-5 16th.
“It’s amazing the hard work has paid off,” said Alex, who is 31. “I wasn’t sure if this would ever happen again, if I’m being perfectly honest. We are all getting older, I’m getting older, there are so many young, amazing players out there, and the competition is getting really difficult. I just didn’t know if my mind and my body were going to put me in a position where I could do it again.”
Jin Young Ko finished alone in second place. Megan Khang and Lydia Ko tied for third.