GALLOWAY, NEW JERSEY: Marina Alex is proud of her New Jersey roots and still prefers to be introduced as being from Wayne, N.J., at LPGA tournaments, even though she has lived in Florida for the past five years.
Of course, that can result in some loud cheering from people in the gallery, which happened again last month at the tour stop in Los Angeles.
“I get ‘Jersey Girl’ a ton anywhere I am, and there’s always the one Jersey person who’s like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to make myself known,’” Alex said with a laugh Monday at an event publicizing next month’s ShopRite LPGA Classic at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club.
“That’s partially why I haven’t ever changed my hometown. I reside in Florida now and I can have that as my home base. I just think that it’s such a unique and distinct ability to connect with fans, people who are just coming to watch. It’s nice to give that back.”
Alex, 28, will have that chance in the Garden State when the tour returns to Seaview the week of June 4, with the dates of the 54-hole competition being June 8-10. She played her first professional tournament there in 2012 on a sponsor’s exemption and tied for 40th place with the help of a second-round 66.
However, Alex has missed the cut in four of five ShopRite appearances since then. That’s a development she’s not able to explain, especially since she played Seaview dozens of time growing up in junior competition or with her family.
“I really would love to change that this year,” she said. “I’m definitely playing a little bit better golf, and have a bit more well-rounded game this year, and even last year. So I’m hoping the result will be better.”
After winning almost $700,000 last year, Alex is off to the best start of her career in 2018. She has two top-five finishes and is 20th on the money list with just over $229,000. She’s looking to continue her fine play.
“I just always think it can be better — I think everyone thinks that way,” she said. “But yeah, it’s been an improvement. I’m really hoping that there’s still some even better golf to be played for this year.”
Tournament officials said nine of the last 11 major championship winners will compete at Seaview, including former world No. 1 Lydia Ko, who will compete for the first time since her rookie year of 2014. The field also includes Michelle Wie, defending champion I.K. Kim and Paula Creamer, who made a run at the title last year…Veteran Natalie Gulbis has received a sponsor’s exemption to the event…The tournament has raised its prize money by $250,000, to $1.75 million.