Alexa Pano goes professional and will make her professional debut on Epson Tour
Alexa Pano had one last goal to achieve before turning professional: play a competitive game at Augusta National.
To do that, she needed to advance to the final round of the recent Augusta Women’s National Amateur Championship, doubling the pressure on the 17-year-old.
“It was definitely a massive deal to do it this year,” Pano said Tuesday. “It was all about it being my last event. I was so happy to be able to do it this year. It was everything I dreamed of.”
Few knew that when Pano left the hallowed course on April 2 after shooting a 74 and equalizing for 12th place, that it would be his last run as an amateur. On Tuesday, Pano announced on social media that she was turning professional, saying the decision “took a long time to come.”
“It’s the decision of her life,” said Rick Pano, Alexa’s father and middle child. “I am extremely happy that she is doing this.”
Rick said it didn’t hit him until the practice round at Augusta National the day before the ANWA finals.
“She’s walking down the fairway…it came to my mind and I said, ‘It’s tomorrow. ”
Pano’s amateur career is legendary. His list of accomplishments compares to the best: three ANWA appearances and this top 12 this year, member of the winning team of the United States Junior Ryder Cup in 2016, 15 USGA championships, tied for the most children’s golf world championships in the United States. with five and 19 LPGA/Epson tournaments.
In 2019, she was the youngest golfer to qualify for the US Women’s Open and play in the inaugural ANWA. At age 11, she was the youngest golfer to compete in an event on the LPGA of Japan Tour.
Pano said one of her coaches texted her on Tuesday and asked if she felt different.
“I feel exactly the same,” she told him.
Pano’s maturity and ability to not be overwhelmed by the moment has defined her career. This will come in handy next week when she plays her first tournament on the Epson Tour as a professional, the Copper Rock Championship in Hurricane, Utah.
“I don’t think there will be any nerves,” said Pano, who is homeschooled and will be graduating from high school this year. “It’s like another golf tournament for me. I always went to every event I played to try to win it, even when I had good weeks and bad weeks. I don’t think anything changes when it comes to the mindset of golf.
Pano has full status on the Epson Tour – the LPGA’s qualifying tour – after finishing in the top 10 at LPGA Q-School Stage II in October. She plans to perform at 16 Epson events. She has been invited to play in an LPGA Tour event in Japan in the fall and could play in two or three more.
Pano will also try to qualify for the US Women’s Open from June 2-5 next month.
“I believe she did it for two reasons, both competitive,” Rick said. “Since she was 8 years old, she always wanted to play against the best players in the world, the highest level possible. And she is motivated by seeing how good she can become.
“It’s a different mentality, it’s a different emotion and it’s a different level of maturity. I think we’re prepared for it, but you never know until you get there.