BEDMINSTER _ It was an extremely hectic and challenging 16 hours for Marina Alex.
Alex, a graduate of Wayne Hills High School, had completed 15 holes when first-round play at the U.S. Women's Open Championship was suspended at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 13 because of darkness. She had to wait for her car and then make the short drive to where she was staying. After the 10-minute trip back, Alex ate and immediately went to bed. She awoke at 4:30 a.m. then headed back to Trump National Golf Course, where she was scheduled to finish three holes starting at 6:45. Following a 15-minute break, Alex commenced her second round.
In the midst of it all, Alex, who also endured a two-hour rain delay brought on by lightning Thursday afternoon, managed to maintain her focus and composure. The fourth-year professional shot a 70-71 to go 3 under par and is tied for 10th in the prestigious tournament. She is the highest among the Americans on the leaderboard. Angela Stanford, Nelly Korda, Stacy Lewis and Cristie Kerr are in a group tied for 14th.
"It's been a really long day," Alex said. "I've been here since about 5:15. I finished my first round OK. The conditions have been tough all day. On and off rain. The course is playing so much longer... It was just steady. I hit a ton of fairways, a lot of greens and made some good putts early in the round."
She said eating, sleeping and playing 21 holes in a tight time frame was difficult.
"The second round was only delayed 15 minutes," Alex said. "So, in the grand scheme of things, our wave really had a lot to juggle. Just to be done and in a good position, I'm really pleased."
Of course, being in contention made it all worthwhile. Alex's best career showing was sixth at the LPGA Volvik Championship in 2016. She has made the cut in 10 of 14 events this year and has for top-10 finishes.
"Just to be in this position, obviously, is incredible," Alex said. "It's here in New Jersey but to contend in a U.S. Open, regardless of where it is, is unbelievable. I'm really happy with where I put myself the last two days."
Shanshan Feng remains the leader after firing a 70 in the second round. In the first round, Feng had a 66 and is 8 strokes under par. Amy Yang, Jeongeun6 Lee and Hye-Jin Choi (138) are tied for second.
Sleep and relaxation, no doubt, were on Alex's agenda Friday night. She will be primed and ready for her third-round tee time, which is 1:51 p.m.
Her second round featured two birdies. One of Alex's birdies came on the 514-yard 18th hole after she hit her drive into the rough on the left. She then used a hybrid. Her 8-iron enabled her to get "pretty tight into the flag" and she sank the short putt, ending what she termed "a chaotic 24 hours."
Despite the poor weather conditions, Alex received a good amount of support. Fans shouted "Go, Jersey!" and "Go, Wayne!" as she traversed the course in her home state.
"It's cool. It really is," Alex said of the attention. "It's never going to happen again for me. I've got to soak it in."
She mentioned the pressure of playing close to home. Alex seems determined to make the most of her situation. At the 2015 U.S. Open in Lancaster, Pa., Alex opened with a 66 and shared the lead with Karrie Webb but wound up tied for 20th.
"I really want to represent my family, myself, my state," she said. "Not many people from New Jersey are out on tour playing professional golf. Just that in itself. There's a lot of people backing me which is awesome. Obviously, everything going on... the fact that we're at Trump (National Golf Club)... All of that element added to it. For all of us, it's been a more high-keyed U.S. Open than we've had in the past."