Alexa Pano will tee it up in the final group on Sunday at the Symetra Tour’s season-opening SKYiGOLF Championship with history on the line.
It would seem that appearing in a Netflix documentary at age 7 – and collecting trophies the way most girls collect dolls – has prepared the now 14-year-old Pano to vie for her first professional title.
Asked by a reporter if she ever expected to hold a share of the lead going into the final round, Pano said: “Yes, sir, that’s why I played in the golf tournament.”
Pano looked in prime position to take the outright lead with a 6-foot chance for birdie on the 17th and a good opportunity at the closing par-5 18th. But she settled for pars to shoot 70 and stand knotted at 8-under 208 with Jean Reynolds, Lauren Kim and Allison Emrey.
Pano will tee off at 1:45 p.m. on Sunday on the line at Charlotte Harbor National Golf Club in North Port, Fla., alongside Reynolds, a two-time winner on this tour.
Hannah O’Sullivan, who now plays at Duke, owns the record for youngest winner on the Symetra Tour after claiming the 2015 Gateway Classic at 16 years, 9 months and 11 days. The last sponsor invite to win on the Symetra Tour was Brooke Henderson at the 2015 Four Winds Invitational.
“It’s something I’m kind of used to,” said Pano of playing with history on the line. “Playing up in events a lot, I’d hear ‘youngest person ever’ so often. It’s actually kind of gone away from me. Now that I’m 14, I’m kind of old and can’t win the ‘youngest’ thing (laughs). But here we are again.”
Pano, playing in her second Symetra Tour start, won two amateur events over the winter in Florida, the Dixie Amateur and the Doherty, and was runner-up at the South Atlantic Amateur. Last week she won the Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship in South Carolina by 12 shots.
“I felt really confident with my game coming into this event,” said Pano, “and it’s really nice seeing results showing up, and seeing birdies happen, and seeing my hard work paying off. Hopefully it can pay off in a big way tomorrow.”