Marina Alex loves a good underdog story. Sunday, the LPGA Tour veteran wrote her own comeback tale with her first victory in four years at the Palos Verdes Championship presented by Bank of America.
“I'm not going to lie,” Alex said after her victory, “if you had talked to me last year or the beginning of even this year, I didn't think [there] was even a remote possibility that I was going to win ever again.”
Alex is a sports junkie whose Twitter feed is full of posts cheering for the dark horse. During the most recent NFL Playoffs, she Tweeted in agony when the Buffalo Bills were eliminated by the Kansas City Chiefs in a heartbreaking playoff loss. “BIG SAD. UGH POOR BILLS!!!!” Alex Tweeted. And the New Jersey girl adopted the Cincinnati Bengals as if they were her own with their improbable Super Bowl berth and agonizing final-minutes loss to the Los Angeles Rams. “Gutted for Cincinnati…. The refs did what they always did, initial defensive holding call was such trash. Changed entire outcome of the game.”
Alex can sympathize with what those underdogs have been through. She’s lived it herself.
Sunday, the 31-year-old came from three-strokes back to win for the second time in her 10 seasons on the LPGA Tour. Her victory comes on the heels of a back injury that was brought on by a variety of bad habits she developed during the pandemic lockdown in which she began doing two-a-day workouts to stay busy, combined with extended periods of inactivity. It was a recipe for injury that forced her to step away from the LPGA Tour for nearly six months between September 2020 and March 2021. Alex spent the time not just rehabbing but reflecting on her future in the game. When Alex decided to call it quits, she wanted to walk away from golf knowing that she’d given the game everything she had.
In 2022, she began working with instructor Claude Harmon and rededicated herself to her game. “I went into this year and I was like, I don't know how many more years I'm going to play if I'm being perfectly honest,” Alex said Sunday. “My outlook this year was to go back to like 100%, and wherever that left me that left me.”
There are nearly 150 players who have a single victory on the LPGA Tour, but with Alex’s win on Sunday, she moves into an elite group made up of less than 50 players who have a pair of wins. And the Tour’s most recent winner will look to ride that momentum into the Tour’s next stop in her home state of New Jersey for the Cognizant Founders Cup. The event gets underway May 12 following a one-week hiatus that will allow players to regroup after a busy three-week stint which saw victories by Hyo Joo Kim at the LOTTE Championship, Nasa Hataoka at the DIO Implant LA Open and Alex’s victory at the Palos Verdes Championship.
There are wins, and then there are wins. There’s something about a come-from-behind victory, for a 10-year touring professional, for the first time in four years, that brings out the best in social media. It has often been Alex who has cheered for the long shot, but Sunday, it was Alex’s turn to bask in the limelight as social media rallied around the underdog.
“@Marinaaadee you bloody legend, congratulations!” Jane Park posted on Instagram.
“I’m so proud of you @marinaaadee,” posted Jodi Ewart Shadoff.
“Yeaaahhh buddy!!” Jaye Marie Green said about her friend’s victory.
Marina Alex loves a good underdog story, and Sunday, she got to be the star of her own.