Marina Alex fired a career-low round Thursday at the Cambia Portland Classic to take the early lead.
Her 10-under-par total featured four straight birdies to close out her round, and the 62 tied the tournament record.
Alex, whose best result in 2018 is a tie for second at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup (one of three top-5 finishes this year) lead by two shots for most of the afternoon over Minjee Lee, who shot 8-under in the morning wave in Portland.
Alex has a familiar face on her bag this week, as she’s using Stacy Lewis’ longtime caddie (who she started working with at the Indy Women in Tech Championship). There were some good vibes this week as Lewis captured this event a year ago, and memorably donated the whole of the winner’s cheque to victims of Hurricane Harvey.
“It's been a blast. The timing was great,” said Alex of the caddie-player partnership. “He wanted to work a couple more events before the season ended and I was looking. Travis is awesome, so much fun, really lighthearted, so we're having a great time.”
It showed Thursday, as Alex was bogey free. She made four birdies on her front nine and six on her back nine. Her previous low round in 2017 was a 6-under-par 66, which she has done twice – most recently at the Indy Women in Tech Championship.
“I started off hitting it a little inconsistent, but I made some really good putts,” said Alex. “I made a great birdie putt on No. 1 and a great save on No. 2… then was just trying to get my bearings and get my ball-striking together.
“I just started hitting it really well and just kept making great rolls on my putts on the back nine. So it just turned out to be a great day.”
Alex said she knows the scores are going to be low as the afternoon wave gets underway – indeed, Robynn Ree was 6-under through her first nine holes at the time of this posting and tied for third – but says she’s feeling good as she goes into Friday’s second round.
“The course is in perfect shape. So if you're hitting your lines you're going to make a ton of putts,” said Alex. “I'm sure tomorrow 10-under probably won't even be close to the lead when I tee off. I'm going to have to come out and make as many birdies as I can the next three days.”
As far as tonight goes? The plan is simple: ‘eat,’ she said with a smile.
“Probably going to eat as much as I can in the Portland area, because the food here is amazing.”
Alex tees off at 1:32 PST with Ryann O’Toole and Wei-Ling Hsu on Friday.