August 31, 2018 / 2:34 AM / 3 months ago

Alex holds early two-stroke lead at Portland

American Marina Alex carded a bogey-free 10-under-par 62 to grab a two-stroke lead through the first round of the Cambia Portland Classic on Thursday at Portland, Ore.

FILE PHOTO: Jun 9, 2016; Sammamish, WA, USA; Marina Alex hits off of the 12th tee during the first round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club - South/North Course. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Alex tied the 18-hole tournament scoring record with her career-low round, which began with a birdie on No. 1. She made birdies on three of the last four holes of the front nine before making the turn at 4-under and scorching the back nine for another six birdies, including four straight to end her day.

“I started off hitting it a little inconsistent, but I made some really great putts,” Alex said after her round. “... I was trying to get my bearings and my ball-striking together and then I just started hitting it really well and just kept making great rolls on my putts on the back nine. It just turned out to be a great day.”

Tied for second are Canadian Brooke Henderson and Australian Minjee Lee at 8 under. American Robynn Ree is another stroke back in sole possession of fourth, and Australian Su Oh, England’s Georgia Hall and American Katherine Perry are knotted in fifth at 6 under.

A group of seven players is tied for eighth at 5 under.

Defending champion Stacy Lewis is not part of the field as she’s due to give birth to her first child in November, but her longtime caddie, Travis Wilson, is working with Alex.

“The timing was great. He wanted to work a couple more events before the season ended, and I was looking” Alex said. “Trav is awesome, so much fun, really light-hearted. We’re having a great time.”

Henderson, who won the event in 2015 and ‘16 and holds the tournament scoring record of 21-under-par 267 (‘15), also had a good time during her bogey-free round. She rocketed up the leaderboard as part of the later wave with birdies on five of the last six holes.

“I could see the scores were really low today, so I wanted to go low on the back nine,” Henderson said. “And I was able to get five birdies. I’m really happy with this round.”

Henderson is fresh off a win at last week’s CP Women’s Open in her native country.

Lee was on pace to finish at 9 under before she bogeyed No. 9. She started on the back nine and carded five straight birdies to open her round on her way to making the turn at 6 under.

“I had a really fast start,” Lee said. “... I was just hitting it pretty close and I had 6 to 5 feet for birdies so most of my birdies were pretty short putts. I guess my ball-striking was pretty good today.”

Rolex Rankings No. 1 Sung Hyun Park of South Korea and No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand are not in the field, making No. 3 So Yeon Ryu of South Korea the highest-ranked player taking part in the event. Ryu ended her first round at 1 under, carding just three birdies and two bogeys.

Caroline Inglis, who played for the University of Oregon, withdrew from the event due to injury.

—Field Level Media

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