Eight top-20 finishes in 12 events, five top-10 finishes, and no missed cuts are just a few statistics in a season that epitomize consistency. Second-year Symetra Tour member Marina Alex has had a season to remember in 2013 and with only two tournaments remaining on this year’s schedule, the Vanderbilt University graduate is well on her way to playing full-time next year on the LPGA Tour.
At the beginning of the 2013 season, Alex found herself still fully engulfed in a disappointing finish at the 2012 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament. After finishing in a tie for 27th, Alex earned a status on the LPGA Tour that would not guarantee her entry into many of the 144-player, full-field events.
Leaving her at a bit of a crossroads in her path as a professional, Alex hesitantly made the decision to devote 2013 primarily to playing on the Symetra Tour. For Alex, the decision has proved to pay off and in the midst of a season that has included a tie-for-second finish at the Four Winds Invitational, she currently stands No. 5 on the Volvik Race for the Card.
“For the beginning part of the season I really felt that I should have been on the LPGA, not playing Symetra,” said Alex. “However I grew to realize how much of a blessing it was for me to play the full year on Symetra Tour. So knowing that my solid play this year will allow me to bypass Q-School is such a reward. I learned so much about myself and my game. I will be much more prepared for the LPGA now than if I had qualified via Q-School.”
For Alex, the consistently positive results this season have emerged after a reevaluation of her swing, mental game, and workout regime.
“I have been working diligently on my swing with my instructor for the past two to three years,” said Alex. “I feel that this season I am really seeing the positives of hard work paying off. With the swing changes I've made I can play three weeks in a row and keep up solid ball striking, which allows me to still play my game and shoot more lower scores throughout the season.
“Most importantly, I started paying much more attention to my mental game plan and getting back to basics. A former coach from college is extremely knowledgeable in that area and after I missed both LPGA cuts in June, I felt it was time to reevaluate my mental strategy for the remainder of the season. So far it has been working well!! Lastly, just trying to eat a little better more often and keep going to the gym, which has kept my body healthier throughout the year.”
The newly acquired workout routine was put to the ultimate test during her season-best finish at the Four Winds Invitational. Alex fired rounds of 68-68-72 to force a playoff with Cydney Clanton and Marissa Steen. Despite bowing out with a bogey on the fourth hole, the playoff lasted a lengthy seven holes, Alex was left with one memorable moment she will never forgot.
“Playoffs are a ton of fun,” said Alex. “I was actually pretty relaxed. It was getting myself into a position to be in the playoff that was the challenge. The crowds in South Bend were great, very vocal and excited about three of us playing off. It is different to have people watching your every shot. You become so immersed in the moment and when you make a great shot the feeling is quite rewarding. On that afternoon myself, Marissa and Cydney hit some great shots and rolled good putts. It was quite the show.”
While the lengthy playoff was one to remember for everyone involved, Alex’s favorite moment of her consistent 2013 season came during the third round of the Northeast Delta Dental International. Alex entered Sunday’s final-day with one specific goal in mind and after a solid round of 66, she finished the tournament in a tie for third.
“Although the playoff and almost winning Four Winds was a great moment, I have to say the highlight for my year so far was shooting 66 in the final round in Concord with my good friend Nicole Vandermade caddying for me that day,” said Alex. “I went into the day with the game plan of getting myself somewhere on the 18th hole leaderboard. I played a solid front nine, but missed couple easy putts and went into the back nine and said ‘I am going to stick every shot to a foot back here’ and I ended up having three birdies within a foot, another birdie or two somewhere along the line and it was just a great round of golf. I jumped to third, missing out first place by a shot. That round gave me the momentum I needed going to the last part of the season.”
With only two tournaments remaining on this year’s Road to the LPGA schedule, Alex still has a bit of unfinished business.
“I have one goal that I came into this year with and that was to be leading the money list at the end of the year,” said Alex. “I am still pushing toward making that happen. I have played well so far this year but I feel my best golf is still ahead of me. Obviously a win would be fantastic. I have come close already this year and I am thrilled I have two more events to put myself in contention.”