GALLOWAY, N.J. – For some reason, the ShopRite LPGA Classic usually has meant a taxing weekend for New Jersey native Marina Alex, but it wasn't that way this time.
Alex, who made the cut in just two of her six previous tournaments at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club, finished Sunday with a 7-under-par 64 that included a hole-in-one at the par-3 17th hole. Her 54-hole score of 199 landed her in third place, a significant improvement over her previous best finish — a tie for 40th in 2012.
"This tournament has been stressful for me, for whatever reason, so to have a great finish is really exciting," said Alex, 27, of Wayne, N.J. "I just feel relieved, to be honest."
Alex called her finish "unbelievable," first the ace, followed by reaching the par-5 18th in two and just missing a 15-foot putt for a second straight eagle.
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She described her hole-in-one as "surreal."
"I finally hit a nice wedge," she said. "I'd hit some wedges earlier in the day and I didn't feel they were super solid. That one was pure. I think what happened is, it hit just by the flag and bounced up on to the little bank behind and we watched it roll in."
ShopRite LPGA champion Annie Park competed for the first two rounds in a group with Jackie Rogowicz, a Pennsbury High School graduate who will be a senior at Penn State in the fall, and enjoyed her time with her.
"She had a great game, a great personality," Park said. "Her demeanor was awesome. Her dad was caddying for her, and I told him, 'You're one of the best caddies I saw.' He knew what he was doing.
"She definitely has the game for it, also. So I wish her the best of luck, whichever decision she chooses."
After opening her first-ever LPGA tournament with an 83, Rogowicz carded a 72 on Saturday, a score that included three birdies on her last four holes.
As Sakura Yokomine continued to rack up the birdies in her final round, she got closer and closer to history, putting herself in a position to become the second player ever to shoot 59 in an LPGA event.
She needed an eagle at the par-5 18th to get to 59, but parred the hole instead for a 61. Still, she enjoyed her experience with the help of her husband, whom she called "my caddie and my mental trainer."
"Through the whole round, my husband advised me to be strong," she said through a translator. "Always he's talking to me."
She made a tricky downhill birdie putt on 17.