PALOS VERDES ESTATES, Calif. (AP) — Marina Alex won the Palos Verdes Championship on Sunday for her second LPGA Tour title, breaking a tie with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 16th and parring the final two holes for a one-stroke victory over Jin Young Ko.
Three strokes behind Hannah Green entering the round, Alex closed with a 5-under 66 to finish at 10-under 274 at hilly and windy Palos Verdes Golf Club.
"The hard work has paid off," said Alex, the 31-year-old from New Jersey who recently fought a herniated disk in her lower back. "I wasn't sure if this would ever happen again if I'm being perfectly honest. It's been tough. We're all getting older. I'm getting older. There are so many amazing players out here. The competition is really, really difficult.
"So, I just didn't know if my mind and body were going to put me back in a position that I was going to be able to do it again. Today was the day."
The top-ranked Ko also shot a 66. She finished about an hour before Alex in the first-year event that wrapped up the LPGA Tour's two-week, Los Angeles-area stay and five-tournament West Coast swing.
"My swing was really better than first three days," Ko said. "I got something — I found something, so hit really well today."
Alex bogeyed the par-4 third, then birdied the par-4 fifth, par-5 seventh and par-4 eighth. She added birdies on the par-3 11th and par-12th and two-putted from 40 feet on 16 to take the outright lead.
"Today was amazing," Alex said. "I'm kind of not really there with processing what went down today, but it's been a really tough couple years. I mean, since the COVID — that slowed all of us down.
"And then I was injured really quick after that. Had seven months off, and it's just been a really tough rebuilding back. Coming into this year I finally have felt good physically, like really good."
Alex also won the 2018 Portland Classic. She tied for 10th last week at Whilshire Country Club in the LA Open.
"My goals for the year were just to like get through the year, silly as that sounds," Alex said. "No, I really did feel like this year was going to be different than years past. I struggled last year just getting back in things competitively and also physically."
Third-ranked Lydia Ko (70) and Megan Khang (68) tied for third at 8 under. Green shot her second straight 72 to drop into a tie for fifth at 7 under with Ryann O'Toole (68), Andrea Lee (69) and Annie Park (69).
Anna Davis, the Augusta National Women's Amateur winner, closed with a 76 to finish 70th in her first LPGA Tour start. The 16-year-old is from Spring Valley east of San Diego. She received a sponsor exemption.
"It's been a really fun experience, I would say," Davis said. "Overall, it's been really fun. Super good experience, and it's something I look forward to doing in my future. So, glad that I got to see a little sneak peek this week."