Marina Alex, a native of Wayne, enjoys being that “Jersey Girl” on the LPGA Tour.
“I get ‘Jersey Girl’ all the time, anywhere I am,” she says. “Because there’s always like the one Jersey person that makes themselves known.
“And that’s partially why I’ve never changed my hometown (in her LPGA bio). I think it gives me a unique and distinct ability to connect with fans, people who are just coming to watch. It’s nice to give that back,” Alex said.
Alex, a mainstay on the LPGA Tour with one victory and two runner-up finishes the past two seasons, carries her Jersey posture across the pond by playing for the USA against Europe in this weekend’s Solheim Cup matches at Gleneagles in Scotland which begin today.
“I couldn’t be more honored to represent my country at the highest level in women’s golf at the Solheim Cup,” she said.
It is Alex’s first selection to the prestigious team. The Solheim Cup is a biennial golf tournament for professional women golfers contested by teams representing Europe and the United States.
Captain Juli Inkster has six golfers on her 12-player squad who are playing in their first Solheim Cup. Alex joins Ally McDonald, Nelly Korda, Megan Khang, Brittany Altomare and Annie Park as newcomers. They join veterans Lexi Thompson, Lizette Salas, Morgan Pressel, Jessica Korda, Danielle Kang and Angel Yin.
It’s the largest group of rookies for an American team since the inaugural event in 1990.
“Alex, at 29, has been a fearless grinder her entire career. She has the lunch-pail attitude that Inkster loves and likely will be more leader than rookie in the team room,” said Steve Eubanks of the Global Golf Post.
Alex, who now resides in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, enjoyed early success in her home state. Going back to when she was nine years old, she has been winning tournaments. She competed in Bergen County’s Pioneer Tour, won two New Jersey high school Tournament of Champions titles as well as the Passaic County high school championship against boys. She was runner-up in the NJSGA Junior Girls’ Championship in 2002.
At Vanderbilt University, she twice won the Southeastern Conference Championship and was twice named SEC Player of the Year.
“As a family we are proud. We couldn’t be more excited and happy for her to think she has reached one of her goals. It’s a great honor to have her represent the USA,” said Steve Alex, Marina’s dad.
“We do know this ranks No. 1 on her list of achievements so far. The Solheim Cup an important milestone in her career goals.”
In 2012, shortly after graduating from Vanderbilt, Alex made her first professional start in the ShopRite LPGA Classic at the Seaview Resort in Galloway Township on a sponsor’s exemption and made the cut. She fired a 66 in the second round to earn a spot in the Sunday finale. She tied for 40th when a 54-hole total of 2-over par 215.
“Laura Davies was playing in front of me,” she recalls, “and Cristie Kerr was playing behind me. “I was like ‘Wow, this is amazing.’ ”
Six years later, Alex was runner-up in the ShopRite LPGA Classic, finishing with a hole-in-one and a birdie. Other LPGA Tour highlights include her victory in the 2018 Portland Cambia Classic and a runner-up finish in the 2018 Founders Cup as she chipped in on the 15th hole for eagle.