Marina Alex fired a stunning final round of 65 to back up a Thursday 62 to win for the very first time on the LPGA Tour at the Cambia Portland Classic.
Georgia Hall entered the final round with a two-shot advantage over Minjee Lee, and the general consensus was that the two would be set for a final round duel at Columbia Edgewater Country Club.
But it was the American, Alex, who was playing in the penultimate group that made the significant move in testing firm conditions.
The 28-year-old trailed by six at the start of the day, but she catapulted into the lead after making five consecutive birdies to close the front-nine as Hall and Lee faltered.
Alex stood on the 18th tee with a comfortable four-shot cushion, and a closing bogey – her first of the day – made no difference to the outcome as Hall could only muster a solitary birdie on the day to finish four shots adrift in second place.
“This is just such a surreal experience,” Alex said.
“I played the best round of golf today that I’ve ever played, I think, given the circumstance. The first round was incredible, too, but to go out and shoot the score that I did today — I’m just really proud of all the work that I put in and just was able to manage my emotions and hang in there until the very end.”
For a player that has so often struggled on weekends when in contention, this was a remarkable final round performance as she shot the best round of the day by four strokes.
As for the British Open champion Hall, it was a day to forget with a three-over 75, but a runner-up finish will give her some momentum ahead of the Evian Championship in two weeks time, where the 22-year-old will be looking to win back-to-back majors.
However, she recognised that Alex was more than a worthy champion this week: “I mean, she shot, what, 7-under? That’s incredible.”
“Like 10-under, 7-under for two rounds. My hat’s off to her. She played amazing, and she deserves to win. But I came second, and it was a great tournament for me still, and I’m really pleased.”
Well not quite the final round I was hoping for… So 2nd place will have to do! Thank you @lpgaportlandclassic for hosting such a amazing event the course was ? Massive congrats to @marinaaadee ? Now looking forward to a week at home before one of my favourite events @evianchamp ❤️??Sep 2, 2018 at 6:51pm PDT
Ayako Uehara, Minjee Lee and Megan Khang rounded off the top-five.
Elsewhere, two-time Portland Classic winner Brooke Henderson failed to build on an opening round of 64 as she finished tied for 21st, as world No.5 Lexi Thompson finished in a tie for 9th.
The LPGA Tour takes a one-week break before heading to France for the Evian Championship.