U.S. WOMEN'S MID-AMATEUR
U.S. Women's Mid-Am Rookies Clark, Brock to Meet in Final
September 29, 2021 | Bluffton, S.C.
By Joey Geske, USGA
For the first time in U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship history, two 25-year-olds will play in the final match. Aliea Clark, just the second No. 64 seed to reach a final since the USGA began seeding for its amateur championships in the mid-1980s, will face Blakesly Brock on Thursday morning at Berkeley Hall Club in the 18-hole final.
Brock, of Chattanooga, Tenn., survived two extra-hole matches on Wednesday, including a birdie on the 19th hole to defeat 2018 champion Shannon Johnson in the semifinals.
Clark, a native Southern Californian who is now attending graduate school at New York University, continued her magical run in South Carolina on Wednesday, defeating Amanda Jacobs, of Portland, Ore., 4 and 2, in the semifinals, and Dawn Woodard, of Greer, S.C., 4 and 3, in the quarterfinals earlier in the day. On Thursday, she’ll try to become the first No. 64 seed to win a USGA championship. Alexandra Frazier lost in the 2010 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur final at Fiddlesticks Country Club in Fort Myers, Fla.
Since her first-round victory over record-breaking medalist Jennifer Peng, Clark, who survived a 5-for-1 playoff to clinch the last spot in the match-play draw, has not trailed in any of her last four matches.
“It’s like my happy place,” said Clark about getting out to early leads in her two matches on Wednesday. “When you're on the back nine and you're 2 up, you can never relax, but you can at least breathe a little better hitting your shots.”
This is Clark’s first competitive event in four years. She was a member of UCLA’s women’s golf team, but since choosing to attend graduate school, Clark has focused on pursuing a dual degree; an MBA from Stern and an MFA from Tisch in film production.
Brock, who played collegiately at the University of Tennessee, opened up a 4-up advantage of Johnson, of North Easton, Mass., before suffering bogeys on four of her last five holes. Johnson converted a 12-foot par putt on the 18th hole to force extra holes. Brock, however, regained her form on the par-4 19th hole, the first hole of the North Course at Berkeley Hall, by making an uphill 15-foot birdie putt.
“I left myself the perfect putt on that green,” said Blakesly, the 2021 Tennessee Women’s Mid-Amateur champion. “It broke barely to the left. I was playing it right edge and hit my line, hit my speed and it went dead center, so it was awesome.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Brock eliminated Clare Connolly, of Chevy Chase, Md., in 20 holes. On Tuesday afternoon, Brock needed 19 holes to oust 2019 runner-up Talia Campbell.
In a battle of past U.S. Women’s Mid-Am champions in the quarterfinals on Wednesday morning, Johnson defeated 2015 champion Lauren Greenlief, of Ashburn, Va., 3 and 1. Greenlief built an early 2-up lead before Johnson won four holes in a row right before the turn, including birdies on Nos. 7 and 8 to gain the momentum.
Also on Wednesday morning, defending champion Ina-Kim Schaad’s match-play win streak of nine was broken in a 1-up loss to Jacobs.
The 18-hole championship match will begin at 9 a.m. EDT on Thursday. Spectators are encouraged to attend, and admission is free.
- The two finalists are exempt into the next three U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur championships, as well as the 2022 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Chambers Bay. The champion will receive an exemption into the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles.
- Prior to the University of Tennessee, Blakesly Brock played golf at The Baylor School, which counts PGA Tour players Harris English, Keith Mitchell and Luke List as alumni.
- Aliea Clark has spent time during her matches this week writing a script for a short film that she will be producing and shooting in the next few weeks for one of her film production classes at New York University.
- The two losing semifinalists received bronze medals as well as a two-year exemption from qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship. The 2022 championship is scheduled for Fiddlesticks Country Club in Fort Myers, Fla., from Sept. 17-22, while the 2023 location is yet to be announced.
- While Clark is looking to become the first 64 seed to win a USGA championship, there have been three 63 seeds that have won titles: Jensen Castle (2021 U.S. Women’s Amateur); Clay Ogden (2005 U.S. Amateur Public Links); Steven Fox (2012 U.S. Amateur). At the concurrent U.S. Mid-Amateur being contested at Sankaty Head Golf Club in Siasconset, Mass., No. 64 seed Hayes Brown has advanced to the semifinals.
“This has been an unbelievable experience. This has been probably the best week of my golfing career, just fun-wise, play-wise. I'm having the absolute best time.” – Blakesly Brock on reaching the title match
“It means the world to me. This is a lifelong goal. I'm honestly too excited right now to say much, but I have a big smile on my face.” – Brock on playing to win a USGA title and a spot in the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open
“I would love to, but I live in New York City and that's kind of hard. I'm recruiting for consulting [jobs], so I think wherever I end up with a job, if it's more accessible to golf … there is definitely [the chance for] more golf in my future. I don't quite know what I've gotten myself into because I have this [U.S. Women’s Amateur] Four-Ball qualifier [coming up], but I've got to recruit, and this summer I'm going to be like an MBA intern at a consulting firm. We're busy. I don't know what I'm going to do. We'll see what happens, but more golf in the future.” – finalist Aliea Clark on all the exemptions that would come her way if she wins the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur
I try to always play like I'm 1 down. When you're 1 down, you're trying to hit good shots. You're trying to hit the middle of the green and get pars and get it back. That's just my opinion. Even if I'm like 4 up I'm still trying to play like I'm 1 down. I never do the math of the holes. That's just stressful.” – Clark on her mindset for match play
“I hit the ball great. My short game just let me down. I don't know. Couldn't chip on that front side and couldn't make a putt anywhere…That [12-foot par putt on 18 to force extra holes] was probably the only putt I made in the last two days.” – 2018 champion Shannon Johnson after her 19-hole loss in the semifinals
“Berkeley Hall, without a doubt, this is my seventh event, they did by far the best job out of any club I've seen. Their pro shop and volunteers, they have just killed it.” – Amanda Jacobs summing up her week after the semifinal defeat to Clark
Joey Geske is a coordinator of championship communications for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Social Scene
Both Mass Golfers Advance!— Mass Golf (@PlayMassGolf) September 29, 2021
Shannon Johnson is moving onto the Semifinals of the #USWomensMidAm this afternoon. And Nick Maccario is into the Quarterfinals of the #USMidAm this afternoon as well.
(Photos: USGA/Jeff Haynes, USGA/Chris Keane) pic.twitter.com/HMflYiNGVv
Costanza, Hagestad, Kim-Schaad & Clark all underway in their @USGA Mid-Amateur Championship matches this morning! Follow along ⬇️⬇️⬇️#USMidAm: https://t.co/DRXuhTODLS#USWomensMidAm: https://t.co/PEKlq5V8oQ— Metropolitan Golf Association (@MGA1897) September 29, 2021
📸: @USGA pic.twitter.com/IVXrGBOqSP
🙌 Reigning PNGA Women's Mid-Amateur champion Amanda Jacobs advances to the semifinals at the #USWomensMidAm! (📸: Jeff Haynes/USGA)— Pacific NW Golf Association (PNGA) (@thePNGA) September 29, 2021
Follow along with her semifinal match: https://t.co/tSMF5sqATz pic.twitter.com/MM80RkThYZ