U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN
Local Favorite and Low American, Marina Alex Has Memorable Week
July 16, 2017 | BEDMINSTER, N.J.
By Greg Midland, USGA
New Jersey native Marina Alex decided before U.S. Women’s Open week that if she was going to have a successful homecoming, it might be wise to spend a little less time at home.
The 26-year-old, who turned professional in 2013, would typically spend a few days visiting friends and family in her hometown of Wayne, N.J., whenever she played in the annual LPGA Tour stop in Atlantic City. While she enjoyed herself, the home cooking wasn’t producing the results she wanted (four missed cuts in five appearances as a pro). So despite Wayne’s much closer proximity (about 40 miles) to Trump National, she resisted the temptation to go for a slice at Vinni’s Pizzarama or drop in at Wayne Hills High School, where she graduated in 2008.
“I think it really gets me out of my routine,” said Alex. “I really wanted to treat this week and prepare for this week like I would be going to a U.S. Open, whether it was in Washington state or Texas or anywhere.”
Alex focused on the task at hand, managing her game and her emotions en route to a tie for 11th place, good for low American honors in this year’s championship. It is Alex’s second-best showing in a major (T-9, 2014 Women’s British Open) and by far the biggest paycheck ($114,631) of her career.
“I’m really happy with how I handled myself,” she said. “I knew there was going to be a ton of fans and just a ton of pressure to play well, and I handled it the best that I could. I'm pleased.”
Indeed, were it not for a rough stretch to start her third round, Alex might have been among the leaders on Sunday. She stumbled with two double bogeys and a bogey in a four-hole stretch from Nos. 3-6 on Saturday, but she went 6 under par the rest of the championship, with no bogeys.
“I'm really incredibly happy with that at a U.S. Open. That's pretty impressive, honestly, to not drop a shot for I don't know how many holes.”
It was 30, to be exact. Now, Alex is hoping to harness the confidence she gained from her week back in the Garden State and translate it into even greater achievements. As the low American, she was asked a question about the Solheim Cup team. She is looking forward to a return trip to the Women’s British Open in just a few weeks. The Vanderbilt University product is making a name for herself.
“It's just more experience for me being in contention and being under a lot of pressure and just figuring out ways to handle it,” she said. “This is great experience for me.”
Alex will have plenty of future opportunities to go back and visit her hometown. And maybe next time, she’ll bring a trophy with her.
Greg Midland is the USGA’s director of content. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.