GALLOWAY _ Swirling winds and unpredictable greens made the going tough for golfers with afternoon tee times at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.
Wayne native Marina Alex, who teed off at 12:04 p.m. in the LPGA event at the Seaview Hotel and Golf Club on Saturday, May 31, was one of many on the course trying to cope with those unpleasant conditions.
"It's not easy when it's windy," the 23-year-old Alex said. "The greens were bumpy. I was scrambling."
Alex, in her first year on the LPGA Tour, shot a 71-73-144 and missed the cut by one stroke. Thirteen other players, including Juli Inkster, Natalie Gulbis, Si Re Pak and Pat Hurst, also shot 144 and won't be competing in the final round on Sunday.
Alex, 4-over par after 15 holes, had a strong finish at the urging of her caddy, carding birdies on two of the last three holes.
On No. 18, a 501-yard par 5, Alex could've had an eagle and played another day. She slugged a 280-yard drive and used a hybrid to land on the green about 10 feet from the hole. When it came time to putt, Alex's ball was wide to the left and went 18 inches beyond the cup.
She managed to get a birdie but the missed putt proved costly for Alex, who has failed to make the cut in her last five tournaments.
"That put me in the go zone," Alex said of her second shot that put her in eagle range. "You can't hole anything when the greens are making the ball wobbly."
Poa annua, a type of grass commonly found on greens, grows quickly and at different rates, making the surface uneven and causing the ball to travel irregularly.
Combatting the wind, much calmer in the morning, was another matter. Still, it wasn't the missed eagle opportunity that kept Alex from having a better second round.
Double bogeys on the second and eighth holes hurt, too.
Alex opened her second round with a birdie on the first hole before getting the double bogey. Birdies on Nos. 3 and 6 put her 1-under. Alex has regrets about the eighth hole. She hit a "not-so-good" tee shot then launched her second shot into the wind, landing it into the rough on the front side of the green. She chipped up and got within two and a half feet but didn't sink the ball.
Although she considered No. 9 "a birdie hole," Alex did not make it happen. Her ball landed in high fescue behind the green. She considered taking an unplayable lie and decided to "whack it." Alex escaped but had to settle for par.
On the four holes after the turn, Alex stayed even. She bogeyed holes 14 and 15 before finishing strong.
"I made improvements to my mental game," she said. "I'm trying to be more positive and not get discouraged. It's a long year."
Christina Thompson, owner of Golf4Her, has made Alex's first year on the tour a bit more pleasant by providing her golf attire.
"Clothes can be expensive," said Thompson, a Rockaway resident. "By taking care of clothing for her, it's one less thing to worry about. Golfers don't get a lot of support financially. As a retailer, I could help."
Thompson also supplies clothing for Tiffany Joh and Caroline Westrup.
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