Alexa Pano happily cuts it close heading into LPGA Thornberry Creek Classic

John David Mercer/USA TODAY Sports

Alexa Pano happily cuts it close heading into LPGA Thornberry Creek Classic

Golf

Alexa Pano happily cuts it close heading into LPGA Thornberry Creek Classic

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Alexa Pano won her morning foursome match at the AJGA’s Wyndham Cup on Tuesday and headed back out in the afternoon to caddie for her roommate Phoebe Brinker.

The Wyndham Cup, a “Who’s who?” junior mixed-team event that pits East vs. West, is “the most fun event of the year” on Pano’s calendar.

She wasn’t going to miss it, even if it meant showing up at the LPGA’s Thornberry Creek Classic on the eve of the first round.

Pano, Golfweek’s top-ranked junior, will take a private jet out of North Carolina at 3 p.m. on Wednesday and land in Green Bay, Wis., about a 10-minute drive from the tournament course, at 4:12 p.m.

“A friend of mine did me a big favor,” explained Alexa’s father, Rick. “That will be a first, and probably a last.”

Jamming one event against another, even without a practice round, isn’t new to 14-year-old Pano. She actually enjoys the challenge.

“Bouncing around from events is kind of my thing,” she said.

The Panos actually spent 2½ days in Oneida, Wis., ahead of the tournament to chart the course. The only thing they’ll need to look at specifically for this week, Rick said, is the speed of the greens. They plan to do that as soon as they arrive on Wednesday afternoon.

Alexa missed the cut last year at Thornberry but is now 15 to 20 yards longer off the tee. The par 5s are now reachable for her, which is key on a course that saw last year’s winner Sei Young Kim card an LPGA 72-hole record 31-under performance.

“I’ve had a lot of confidence going throughout this whole year,” said Alexa, who won her first AJGA invitational, the Rolex Girls Junior, last month. Rick called it the best tournament of her life on the greens. She missed only one putt inside 10 feet the entire event.

Alexa actually arrived on Johns Island, S.C., for the Rolex at 5 p.m. the night before the first round, travelling straight from the Symetra Tour’s Four Winds Invitational in South Bend, Ind.

“This was her idea,” said Rick of jamming a junior team event and LPGA tournament in the same week. “I’m not into this much chaos.”

Should Alexa make the cut at Thornberry, which would be a first for her on the LPGA, she’d dive straight into the Junior PGA in Hartford, Ct., July 9-12. Then it’s back to Wisconsin for the U.S. Girls’ Junior at SentryWorld in Stevens Point. She advanced to the finals of the championship last year.

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