GALLOWAY TWP. _ There was nothing at all wrong with the way Marina Alex hit the ball during the first round of the LPGA ShopRite Classic.
Alex didn't intend to spend excess time on her putting, her mechanics or her grip after shooting a 75 on the Stockton Seaview Bay Course. The second-year pro, who grew up in Wayne, was not uncomfortable and anxious to make a bevy of fixes. Actually, Alex was glad to be back in her home state, playing before family and friends.
She didn't question or doubt herself after her opening round, which ended with a birdie on the par 5, 501-yard 18th hole. Other circumstances were what irked her.
"I hit it well. I just scored poorly," said Alex, who was 4 over par. "It'll definitely be better tomorrow. There were bad bounces, awkward lies. A few of my putts lipped out. The greens were bumpier in the afternoon. The greens will be fresh next time."
On Saturday, Alex did have a better round, posting a 72, but it still was not good enough to make the cut. She missed the cut by two strokes.
Alex had a remarkably good attitude on Friday for someone who endured an unusual round. For example, on No. 7, a par 3 that measures 185 yards, Alex's tee shot took what she called "a hard bounce" on the front of the green. The ball went over the green and into high grass and Alex ended up with a double bogey.
"That was a great tee shot and it went into the hay," she said, incredulous how such a manageable hole turned into an adventure in an instant. "That was a well-struck shot."
It was like that all afternoon for the former Vanderbilt standout, twice named the SEC Player of the Year. Nothing was easy or routine and that made for a tough afternoon.
She carded three bogeys, including back-to-back ones on the 14th and 15th holes. After getting the double bogey on No. 7, she was 3-over and stayed there until reaching No. 14.
Of course, getting a birdie to end the day was critical. Alex had a tee shot that traveled about 261 feet. Her second shot was just short of the green. Her pitch shot left her 7 feet from the hole and she sank the putt.
Alex, who missed the cut by one in 2014, hopes that the momentum will carry into Saturday, when the cut is made. A large number of golfers had 75s, including fellow American Brittany Lincicome.
She has missed the cut in her last four tournaments, including the Kingsmill Championship. There, too, she had a first-round score of 75.
Her lowest round this year was the 68 she fired in the second round of the Kia Classic in late March. Alex's best showing was a tie for 30th at the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open in February.
On Saturday, Alex had an early morning tee time, meaning the greens were likely kinder and more predictable. She began play on the 10th tee at 7:33 a.m. and was paired with Mallory Blackwelder and Meena Lee.
"I hit my targets," she said on Friday. "I did everything I was supposed to do. It was a good finish. All I can do is get ready for tomorrow."
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