Since she was a child, Alexa Pano all the time dreamed of enjoying a event at Augusta National. She was daring sufficient to say it when the then-7 year-old was featured within the documentary film, “The Short Game.”
Pano will get one other alternative to make that dream a actuality on Wednesday when she performs within the first round of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. The first 36 holes are at Champions Retreat with the sphere minimize from 72 to 30 for Saturday’s final round at Augusta National, website of subsequent week’s Masters.
Pano got here painfully shut in 2019, lacking a playoff to qualify for the final round by a shot. One of her uncommon setbacks in golf, she vows to make it to Augusta National this week for the final round.
“It was very disappointing and really hard to go out and watch my friends because I obviously wanted to be out there,” Pano mentioned. “It definitely motivated me to get back into the tournament. I don’t want to just make the cut, but hopefully be playing near the end of Saturday.”
Pano is now not a child however at 16, she as soon as once more is the youngest participant within the ANWA area. Imagine that.
Alexa Pano is interviewed throughout a press convention prior to the beginning of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, Monday on April 1, 2019.
It’s nothing new for the native prodigy. In 2016, Pano, then 11, was the youngest to play in an LPGA of Japan Tour occasion. She performed in her first LPGA Tour occasion when she was 13. She was the youngest, at 14, to play within the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open.
Soon, she is going to now not have that distinction. Time waits for no golfer.
“I was thinking about that today,” Pano mentioned on Sunday night time from Augusta about being the youngest. “I kind of feel a little older now even though I’m still really young.
“A lot of girls (in the field) are girls I grew up with and I’ve played against my whole life. Time flies. It’s surreal to think I’m going to be a senior next year.”
In highschool, of course. Who is aware of what’s going to occur after that? When requested about her school plans, she identified “we’re living in a crazy time” and he or she’s centered on “taking things day by day.”
It’s loopy to suppose it’s been greater than a yr since Pano received her final event. She began 2020 with a second on the Sally and a victory on the Doherty Amateur in Fort Lauderdale.
But after COVID-19 shut down novice golf for greater than three months, Pano wasn’t the identical participant afterward. She has had only one top-10 end in her final 11 begins.
“Obviously, I struggled a bit coming off the break,” Pano mentioned. “I’m the type of player who gets into a rhythm – it’s not much for me to play a ton of weeks in a row. The last year hasn’t been normal for me, not having events to play in. At least things are starting to get back to normal.”
To be honest, Pano additionally has performed in her share of LPGA Tour and Symetra Tour occasions in opposition to seasoned execs. And she has been going by some swing modifications along with her teacher, Chris O’Connell. (She works on her brief recreation with Stuart’s Jerry Tucker.)
“I made a lot of fundamental changes, and there’s going to be a learning curve,” Pano mentioned. “I’ve changed a lot the way I play. Hopefully, it works out for the best.”
Pano has had success at Augusta National, successful a pair of nationwide Drive, Chip and Putt titles in three appearances. Who is aware of what number of extra occasions she’ll get to compete within the ANWA?
The clock could lastly be ticking on Pano for the primary time in her profession.
“It would mean the world to me to make it to Saturday,” she mentioned.