Culver City Observer -

By Fred Altieri
Sports Reporters 

Marina Alex Wins Inaugural Palos Verdes Championship

Beats World's #1 Jin Young Ko by One Stroke for 2nd Tour Win

 

Inaugural 2022 Palos Verdes Champion Marina Alex

The inaugural 2022 Palos Verdes Championship was an instant success. Marina Alex emerged from a field of at least two dozen contenders during Sunday's final round to win her second LPGA title. The 11-year Tour veteran from New Jersey rallied from three strokes down to finish at -10, one stroke better than the world's top-ranked golfer Jin Young Ko of South Korea.

"It's been a tough couple years, so still haven't really probably processed everything yet. It's been amazing. PV has been great, the community here. There were so many fans out the last few days, which is really nice to see. Everyone is rallying around us being here, which is great," said Alex, whose previous win was a four-stroke victory at the 2018 Portland Classic. "I have some close childhood friends that came out to watch, so it kind just felt a little like home."

Alex and Ko both shot 5-under par 66's on an almost ideal but slightly breezy Sunday at Palos Verdes Golf Club. The club's members were a bit concerned about the course's defense after Thursday morning's low rounds. But the 98-year old course definitely held up to throughout the weekend with firm and fast greens composed of bent and poa annua grass along with fairly steep rolling hills and challenging approach area's.

I played really well in front nine" said Ko, who has 13 victories and 46 Top 10 finishes since her first tournament beginning in 2014. She began the season with a victory at the HSBC Women's World Championship in early March. "My swing was really better than first three days, and I got something, I found something, so hit really well today."

Hannah Green and Lydia Ko, the two third round leaders playing in Sunday's final pairing each had three birdies on their cards but failed to mount a sustained charge. Both shot even par on the more challenging back nine (the front and back nine holes were switched at PVGC from the traditional members setup for the LPGA tournament). Lydia Ko did have a last gasp chance to tie but came up about five feet short with her eagle approach attempt at the par-4 18th hole.

Lydia Ko: "I think the first couple days was actually really good and probably the best driving I had in a really long time. I'm going to focus on that. Just shows that things I been working on have been good. Just got to keep taking it shot by shot, and hopefully more and more consistence."

"Felt pretty flat out there, but made a good birdie on the par-3 down the hill... And then just hit a bad shot on 17. I never really gave myself close chances and it did get quite bumpy out there. Super happy with the results," said Green. "Obviously shooting over par is not ideal, but the more you put yourself in those conditions the more you get used to it, and hopefully can excel that one week."

The Palos Verdes Championship presented by the Bank of America will have its fate conditionally decided by the golf courses membership. The club also holds the annual Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge every March and must now decide how to coordinate the two tournaments with respect to the LPGA Tour schedule and more importantly, the tournament's sponsor. There are reports of perhaps moving the Palos Verdes Championship to September or October in future years.

World's No. 1 player Jin Young Ko addresses putt - 18th Green, Palos Verdes Golf Club

Marina Alex has made all eight cuts this season, including a tie for fourth place at the LPGA Drive On Championship at Crown Colony in February. She showed excellent form during the West Coast Swing in California with a tie for 35th at the first major tournament of the year, the Chevron Championship at the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, and an excellent tie for 10th last week at the DIO Implant L.A. Open at the Wilshire Country Club.

"I didn't really know what was going on like as per usual, and I just didn't check the leaderboard," said Alex. "I putted out on 18. Saw that I was in first... I just was a little on the anxious side if I'm being honest. I just wanted to be in a good headspace if there was a potential for a playoff."

I knew that once I got through No. 12 and made a birdie there I knew I was definitely in the mix. There was no way that if I didn't finish the round from that point on with two more birdies that I wasn't going to have a chance to win the tournament."

 

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