Marina Alex polished off her 2018 season with her first career victory at the Cambia Portland Classic, along with two other top five finishes in her final six events.
She came into the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions presented by IOA wishing the 2018 season never ended.
The 2019 season came regardless of her wishes, with three top 25 finishes to open the year. Then Alex ran into a wall, where she couldn’t find the answers. “And I started off good at Diamond, but then you never can tell what your game's going to be like. And it wasn't that far off, it was just maybe more of a mental thing than anything, just really felt like I couldn't get in the right frame of mind, focused, all that.”
The Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings No. 30 just cracked the top 50 at the HSBC Women’s World Championship and the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. Alex then missed the cut at the KIA Classic, and finished T71 at the ANA Inspiration.
She gave herself a chance to change her state of mind before Daly City, taking the LOTTE Championship off. She proceeded to WD from the HUGEL-AIR PREMIA LA Open, citing a back injury that nagged her since the Founder’s Cup.
Feeling fresh from the roughly month away from the game, Alex came in firing a 74. Then a 72. Then a 70. Then Alex closed her Northern California visit with a 68, improving two strokes a round to finish at T8, her first top 10 of the year.
She talked with her caddy after the final round, telling him that, “It's just really nice to get some good momentum. Bummer we're not playing next week, but yeah, I was hitting it really well.”
Regaining her momentum is all the more important, with the Solheim Cup points cutoff lurking in August. “Probably a little bit of underlying pressure maybe to start off the season and just trying to get those points and all that.” Alex currently sits in 7thof eight spots on the Solheim Cup points list, with a 19-point gap between her and Austin Ernst in 9thplace.
Before Alex tees it up again in two weeks at the Purse Silk championship, the seven-year LPGA veteran joins a Team USA Solheim Cup bonding event in San Francisco on Monday. She has her mentality set if she has to battle through another wall.
“You just got to bear down and grind it out.”