In a Match of Unlikely Finalists, Brock Emerges as Mid-Am Champion
October 1, 2021
BLUFFTON, S.C. -- The Magic Carpet Ride of No. 64 seed Aliea Clark came crashing to the ground in the middle of the round on Thursday during the final at the 2021 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur. Clark was even par and 1 up against the No. 27 seed, Blakesly Brock, after six holes at Berkeley Hall Club, but Brock then proceeded to win the next six holes in a row -- five of them with pars.
From there, all she had to do was par the next two holes for a 5&4 victory.
Brock, a 25-year-old former University of Tennessee golfer, made it comfortably through stroke-play qualifying with 36-hole score of 75-77--152. That was 16 shots higher than the record total of 136 turned in by the medalist and No. 1 seed, Jennifer Peng. But it was seven better than the 159 (83-76) that got Clark into a 5-for-1 playoff for the last spot in the match-play portion of the tournament.
Clark, also 25 (the minimum age for the Mid-Am), won the playoff with a birdie on the first extra hole, the 481-yard, par-5 10th. She then upset Peng -- her four-ball partner and one of her best friends -- 1 up in the Round of 64.
After that, she had a fairly easy time of it, winning 3&2, 4&2, 4&3 and 4&2 on her way to the final. On Thursday, she was attempting to become the first No. 64 seed to win a USGA event. She was only the second player seeded that low to reach a final. Alexandra Frazier was the first. Eleven years ago, she made the title match at the U.S. Women's Senior Amateur, but lost 2&1 to Mina Hardin.
Unlike Clark, Brock had her hands full in each of the three rounds that preceded the final. Each of those three matches went extra holes. The odds against winning that way three times in a row are not very good, but that was what she did.
In the Round of 16, against No. 22 seed Talia Campbell, she was 1 down with two holes to go. Brock leveled the match with a par at the 17th, tied the 18th with a bogey and won with a par on the first extra hole. Against the No. 51 seed, Clare Connolly, in the quarterfinals, Brock had to birdie the 17th and 18th holes just to take the match into overtime, and she needed a birdie on the second extra hole, the 500-yard, par-5 second, to advance.
Her opponent in the semifinals was the No. 2 seed, Shannon Johnson, the 2018 Mid-Am champ. Brock appeared to have the match pretty well locked up when she came to the 13th tee 4 up. But she bogeyed five of the last six holes in regulation, and had to go into overtime once again.This time, she won it with a birdie on the first extra hole.
In the final, Brock won the first hole with a par, but Clark responded by winning the second with a birdie. The next three holes were tied with pars, and then Clark won the par-3 sixth with a par. After that, however, things went South for the UCLA alum (who is now in grad school at NYU). Brock won the seventh hole with a par, the par-3 eighth with a birdie, and the ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th with pars.
Clark righted the ship enough to par the 13th and 14th holes, but it was too little, too late.
U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur
At Berkeley Hall Club -- North Course (par 72)
Stroke play (the top 64 advance to match play)
1. Jennifer Peng, San Diego 70-66--136
T2. Shannon Johnson, North Easton, Mass. 71-73--144
T2. Jamie Freedman, Aventura, Fla. 74-70--144
T4. Lara Tennant, Portland 74-71--145
T4. Lana Weant, Lubbock, Texas 73-72--145
T6. Lauren Greenlief, Ashburn, Va. 73-73--146
T6. Megan Buck, North Easton, Mass. 70-76--146
What it took -- 159 (5-for-1 playoff -- Aliea Clark, who shot 83-76--159, won playoff with a birdie on the first extra hole)
Paige McCullough, Maple Grove 79-84--163
Olivia Herrick, Roseville 83-82--165
Alexandra Schilling, Rochester 85-80--165
Round of 64
(64) Aliea Clark, New York def. (1) Jennifer Peng 1 up
(27) Blakesly Brock, Chattanooga, Tenn. def. (38) Courtney McKim, Raleigh, N.C. 4&3
Round of 32
Clark def. (32) Ashley Freeman, Houston 3&2
Brock def. (7) Megan Buck, North Easton, Mass. 4&3
Round of 16
Clark def. (16) Kaylin Crownover, Tampa 4&2
(2) Shannon Johnson def. (15) Tara Joy-Connelly, Vero Beach, Fla. 1 up
(7) Lauren Greenlief def. (10) Jacqueline Bendrick, Mercer Island, Wash. 2 up
Brock def. (22) Talia Campbell, New York, N.Y. 19 holes
Clark def. (40) Dawn Woodard, Greenville, S.C. 4&3
(12) Amanda Jacobs, Portland def. (20) Ina Kim-Schaad, Rhinebeck, N.Y. 1 up
Johnson def. Greenlief 3&1
Brock def. Clare Connolly, Chevy Chase, Md. 20 holes
Clark def. Jacobs 4&2
Brock def. Johnson 20 holes
Brock def. Clark 5&4