U.S. WOMEN'S MID-AMATEUR
Brock Solid: Tennessean Wins 34th U.S. Women's Mid-Am
September 30, 2021 | Bluffton, S.C.
By David Shefter, USGA
Blakesly Brock made sure noon turned into midnight for the Cinderella story of the 34th U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship at Berkeley Hall Club. On a gorgeous Thursday morning in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, Brock, 25, of Chattanooga, Tenn., denied Aliea Clark from becoming the first No. 64 seed to win a USGA championship.
The former University of Tennessee golfer won six consecutive holes starting on No. 7 to seize control of the 18-hole final match and earn a 5-and-4 victory that ended at 12:14 p.m. EDT. The win earned Brock an exemption into the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open next June at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C.
At 25 years, 10 months and 20 days, Brock is the third-youngest champion in U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur history behind Lauren Greenlief (25/0/25) and Sarah Ingram (25/3/26).
“I’m speechless. This has been an absolute dream week for me,” said Brock, who won the 2021 Tennessee Women’s Mid-Amateur just prior to this championship. “I'm so happy. The course has been phenomenal. I've enjoyed it. The superintendent has done a great job, especially with the rain we had at the start of the week. The USGA has been absolutely incredible. It's a dream.”
Clark, a 25-year-old native of San Diego, Calif., who now is a graduate student at New York University, was only the second No. 64 seed to reach a USGA final, joining Alexandra Frazier, who lost in the championship match of the 2010 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur at Fiddlesticks Country Club in Fort Myers, Fla., the site of next year’s U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur.
Five days ago, Clark looked like she might be heading home without ever teeing it up in the match-play portion of the championship. She finished stroke play 23 strokes behind record-setting medalist Jennifer Peng and needed a birdie on the first hole of a 5-for-1 playoff to nab the final spot in the draw.
That set up a first-round encounter with Peng, her good friend and U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball partner. But Clark pulled off a stunning 1-up win and then proceeded to play like a top seed over her next four matches, never going beyond the 16th hole. That was until Thursday’s championship match.
Meanwhile, Brock was creating her own magic at Berkeley Hall, winning extra-hole matches in the Round of 16, quarterfinals and semifinals, the latter a 19-hole decision over 2018 champion Shannon Johnson.
She would not need such drama on Thursday, despite going 1 down following a bogey on the par-3 sixth.
Clark’s cold putter contributed as well. While the former UCLA golfer’s ball-striking was solid the entire match, she three-putted for bogey on several greens. With the match tied through six holes, Clark missed a 10-footer for par to lose the seventh hole, then watched Brock made a 12-foot birdie after she missed from 15 feet to lose the eighth, and she lipped out a 3-foot par putt on No. 9 to go 2 down at the turn.
“I felt confident all day,” said Brock. “I knew I was hitting it great. For me, I was trying not to worry too much about what she was doing and just play my own game. I think the key for me this week was I never really got down on myself. I just held my head high the entire time and just tried to commit to my line and my speed.
“That [putt] on 8 was a big momentum change for me when I made birdie there. I felt confident with my putting, and for me, that's the key.”
Clark’s game continued to slide on the second nine as three more bogeys on Nos. 10-12 pushed Brock’s lead to 5 up.
“The greens were tough today,” said Clark. “I couldn't get my speed down. But it's okay. I made the finals, it's great.”
What Champion Receives
- A gold medal
- Custody of the Mildred Gardiner Prunaret Trophy for one year
- Exemption into the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open Championship at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club
- Exemptions into the 2022 and 2023 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championships at Chambers Bay and Bel-Air Country Club, respectively
- Exemptions into the next 10 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championships
- Clark, the runner-up received a silver medal, a three-year exemption into the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship and an exemption into the 2022 U.S. Women’s Amateur.
- This was the first championship match with finalists in their first year of eligibility. Mid-amateurs are golfers who are 25 and older.
- The 5-and-4 margin of victory was the largest in a final since Meghan Stasi defeated Liz Waynick, 6 and 5, in 2012 at Briggs Ranch in San Antonio, Texas.
- Brock was the second golfer with ties to the University of Tennessee women’s golf team to make a USGA final in 2021. Current freshman Bailey Davis lost in the U.S. Girls’ Junior championship match in July to world No. 1 Rose Zhang.
- Clark was vying to become the second UCLA Bruin to win the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur following inaugural champion Cindy Scholefield (now McConnell) in 1987.
- Martin Rather, who is in law school at Harvard, flew in to watch his good friend, Aliea Clark. Rather is the grandson of famed journalist Dan Rather and a former student at NYU, where Clark is in graduate school.
- Blakesly Brock and her husband/caddie, Mitch, also had a nice gallery of friends and family that included Brock’s parents, Mitchell and Crissy Warren.
“I actually came straight from [winning] the Tennessee Mid-Am, hopped in the car right after the last round and came down for a practice round the very next morning. You know, when I showed up at the golf course, I had a feeling. I just had a feeling it was going to be my week. I played great at the Tennessee Mid-Am, and I knew I was good enough to win this golf tournament. I came in not really expecting to win but knowing that I could, and that gave me a lot of confidence.” – Blakesly Brock on her mindset this week
“So the cool thing is after she graduated, she started her own golf clothing line called Teleri Athletics, and it is hands-down the best golf apparel I've ever worn. These skorts have five pockets. The hats are comfy. I can't say enough great things about it. The skort I'm wearing today is actually named after me. It's called the Blakesly skort. I wore it for good luck today, and obviously it paid off.” – Brock on her attire designed by her former University of Tennessee teammate/roommate Teleri Hughes
“I haven't even thought about it. This is still kind of kicking in. Gosh, I could think of a lot of people I'd love to play a practice round with. Anybody out there.” – Brock when asked which pros she would like to play a practice round with at next year’s U.S. Women’s Open
“To have my mom and dad here just means the world. They've been nothing but supportive my entire life, and they've seen my highs, seen my lows. This is a high for sure, and I know they'll enjoy it just as much as I have.” – Brock on having her parents in attendance
“Michelle Wie was like, ‘Let's go.’ It's like, guys, it's the [Women’s] Mid-Am; let's be realistic, my body is breaking.” – Aliea Clark on the support she received from afar
“Five matches later, here he is, hopped on a plane. Oh, my God, and I didn't see any of the highlights on Golf Channel [Wednesday night], but Martin was on his United flight and sent me a video of the highlights on Golf Channel and he was like losing his mind. It was maybe the sweetest thing I've ever received, I said to my parents. It was really cool.” – Clark on good friend Martin Rather skipping law-school classes on Thursday to watch the final in person
“It was so kind. Everyone this week, it was like a great reminder of how much fun golf tournaments are. Obviously, I'm really disappointed I left some shots out there today, but like the cup is still so full. I had a blast.” – Clark summing up her week
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Joey Geske, the coordinator of championship communications contributed.
The Social Scene
🇺🇸🇺🇸— Tennessee Golf Association (@TNgolf) September 30, 2021
Tennessee is home to the newest @USGA national champion!!!
Chattanooga’s @BlakeslyBrock wins the 2021 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur title over Aliea Clark 5&4 at Berkeley Hall.
Help us congratulate the 2021 Tennessee Women’s Mid-Am and two-time Tennessee Junior champion! pic.twitter.com/1Nep6rymuN
Aliea Clark, a California native who currently lives in New York, will look to become the first 64th seed to win an @USGA championship as she battles Blakesly Brock for the 34th #USWomensMidAm championship!— New York State Golf Assoc. (@NYSGA1923) September 30, 2021
📸Jeff Haynes / USGA
Follow live scoring: https://t.co/bw2MVTy0pd pic.twitter.com/3owbVuhTd3
This is unbelievable! @MartinRather's and my good friend Aliea Clark is in the finals of the @USGA #USWomensMidAm! She is a 64 seed, not even ranked, and she barely has time to play pursuing a dual degree @NYUTischSchool and @NYUStern! Go Aliea! @GOLF_com @GolfChannel pic.twitter.com/UUE4JSMxa3— Cameron Koffman (@Cameron2020NY) September 29, 2021