Alexa Pano

A refreshed Alexa Pano embarks on 2022

The 17-year-old has Epson Tour status and an entirely new outlook on the game
By Jordan Perez

All Alexa Pano wanted out of last fall’s Q-School Stage II was status. It was all the 17-year-old could ask for, considering the LPGA’s minimum age requirement prevented her from competing until her birthday in August. After opening with steady rounds of 71-70-71, Pano was in position to capitalize on another opportunity. But she was burdened by what appeared to be a head cold and, worse, recovering from a muscle strain in her hip that had her grimacing every time she swung the club in the third round. Somehow, Pano produced a dazzling final-round 67, securing her Epson Tour playing privileges with a top-10 finish.

After the round, her father/caddie Rick handed his daughter the keys to the car for the drive home to Lake Worth Beach, Fla. Armed with a learner’s permit and the desire to prove herself behind the wheel, Alexa had never said no to the chance to drive. But this time she did; she was overcome with exhaustion. A trip to the emergency room revealed Pano was battling pneumonia in both of her lungs, which makes her closing 67 all the more remarkable. She spent the next 10 days in bed.

“I asked her, ‘Would you have played Round 4 if it was tomorrow?’” Rick recalls. “She goes, ‘I wouldn’t have told you (I was sick); I would have been playing.”

While fighting one of her toughest battles off the course, Pano displayed a spectacular Stage II finishing kick that signified a turnaround from a difficult year on it as well. Earlier in the year, she had committed to changing her game from top to bottom. “In every event, you could see these mistakes I was making where if I kept repeating them, long term it would become an issue,” Pano says. “So I made the decision to work through and fix them before I got older.”

The transition shook her confidence as she searched for any level of consistency. The elite junior, who has spent the better part of her childhood at the top of the amateur game, became overwhelmingly nervous when teeing it up. The respite came during the 2021 Junior Ryder Cup exhibition, in a relaxed atmosphere among her peers. Teammate Anna Davis was a witness to Pano’s transformation. The two bonded by creating countless TikTok videos. Davis points out the dichotomy in Pano: a laid-back character who has a steely resolve on the course.

As Pano mastered her swing changes, the old confidence slowly returned. “It’s a much better feeling when you’re going to tee it up and you can trust what you’re doing,” she says. 

Returning to form, she delivered three consecutive runner-up finishes over the winter amateur slate and then a top 10 at the Epson Tour opener. Past the Sage Valley Junior Invitational, her next elite event is the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in early April. “I’m counting down the days,” Pano says. “I am probably the most excited I’ve ever been for a stretch of golf.”

And with Dad by her side—whom she calls a “legend”—Alexa feels all but unstoppable. His familiarity with her game, along with being a willing participant in all of her foodie post-round journeys, makes him irreplaceable. “How many fathers can say they’re with their daughter 12 hours a day?” he says. “I know her so well, it’s ridiculous.”

The decision of when to turn professional looms as Pano approaches her high school graduation in the next few months. She remains coy about when she’ll turn pro, but either way she will be a fixture on the Epson Tour in the coming months. Pano played her way onto the tour despite pneumonia and a bad hip. She’s ready for anything now.

9 thoughts on “A refreshed Alexa Pano embarks on 2022”

    1. I’ve been to many Jr Tournaments and some of the LPGA ones as well where her Dad was there. I’ve never seen any evidence of what your stating.

      1. That’s good to hear, I honestly hope (for her sake) this story is more reflective of who he is than the awful shit I saw. I was warned about him pre-round and he did not disappoint.

  1. Oh the hypocrisy, this is the same dad that was hostile to people during covid accusing anyone and everyone with a sniffle or something of trying to kill him and leave Alexa an orphan. But now that it is his daughter who was sick, we are all to celebrate her tenacity? Somehow, it’s now OK to expose everyone to viruses because it is her? She’s out there playing for fun while other women on that tour are playing for their paychecks, How do you think they would feel if Alexa got them all sick? Seems like she should have treated others as they demanded to be treated during and self isolate instead of exposing others to illness. Yet, he wants to celebrate this behavior as if it is a sign of grit and not selfishness. Complete hypocrisy.

  2. The folks complaining on this thread appear to have an issue with envy. You’ve either done nothing in your life or your kids’ asses were handed to you by the Pano’s. Rick has always been a good father to his daughter, and has allowed her to excel appropriately. You idiots complaining have no clue what’s going on or what it takes to be in the arena. But go ahead and keep running your mouth if it makes you feel any better, you bunch of mumbling idiots.

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