Medalist Peng Makes It to Round of 32 of Women's Mid-Am This Year; Most High Seeds Advance
September 19, 2022
By Michael R Fermoyle
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The second time was the charm, as it turned out, for Jennifer Peng. A year ago, she was the medalist at the U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur with a record score of 136 (70-66) in the 36-hole stroke-play qualifying part of the tournament, which was played at Berkeley Hall Club in Bluffton, S.C. But then she lost to the No. 64 seed, Aliea Clark, in her first match.
She had finished stroke play 23 shots ahead of Clark, who had to come back from a first-round 83 just to shoot 159 and then survive a 5-for-1 playoff for the 64th spot in match play. Nevertheless, Clark went on to reach the final before losing 5&4 to 2021 champion Blakesly Brock, the No. 27 seed.
This year, Peng, a 26-year-old former Yale University golfer from San Diego, came within two strokes of tying her record on the Long Means Course at Fiddlesticks Country Club. She was the medalist again with a 71-67--138. On Monday, she lost the first two holes to No. 64 seed Connor Macon, but she came right back, winning the next two holes, and she went on to claim a 2&1 victory.
In several of the USGA tournaments this summer, a recurring theme has been that "seedings don't matter." But they did Monday in the Women's Mid-Am.
Round of 64 matches don't always go off on schedule. Things like playoffs tend to get in the way. This year, 14 players tied for 56th place, and they competed for nine spots in match play.
But the first 16 scheduled matches all went to the higher seeds, and in all, 26 of the 32 higher seeds won.
One of the exceptions was the No. 2 seed, Kelsey Chugg, the winner of this tournament in 2017. Having qualified with 139 (70-69), she was beaten in the first round by the No. 63 seed, Kate Scarpetta, who like Macon, qualified with a 155 (81-74). But on Monday Scarpetta birdied two of the first three holes, won three of the first four and ended up winning the 14th and 16th with pars to close out Chugg 3&2.
The No. 3 seed, Katie Miller was tied with No. 62 Ashley Freeman after 15 holes, but won the 16th and 17th for a 2&1 victory.
As for the defending champ, Blakesly Brock, she's the No. 4 seed this year, and in her first-round match, she doubled the second hole and bogeyed the third to fall 2 down. But she won the last four holes on the front nine -- the sixth with a par, and the seventh through ninth with birdies -- and she won the 12th, 13th and 14th with pars to finish off No. 61 Taya Battistella 5&4.
The only other player among the top 14 seeds to lose, other than Chugg, was No. 10 Mallory Kane. She was 3 down to No. 55 Laine Evans after 15 holes, but fought back to win the 16th and 17th holes with pars, and she won the 492-yard, par-5 18th with a birdie, only to lose the match to Evans' birdie on the 460-yard, par-5 19th hole.
Minnesota has been represented deep into USGA events in recent weeks. Most notably, Derek Hitchner, the former state high school champion from Blake -- and a member of Pepperdine's 2021 NCAA championship team -- made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur, and last week, 2022 MGA Mid-Players champ Bryce Hanstad and former University of Minnesota star Josh Persons (from Fargo) made it to the semis of the U.S. Men's Mid-Am.
But no one from -- or with any significant connection to -- Minnesota made to the match-play portion of the Women's Mid-Am. Olivia Herrick, the six-time -- and reigning -- MGA Women's Player of the Year, shot 83-84--167 in qualifying and missed the cut. And as a matter of fact, the five-state area has no representation in the Round of 32. The one player from Iowa who reached match play, Leanne Smith of Norwalk, the No. 53 seed, lost 1 down to No. 12 Tracy Martin of Wakefield, Mass., on Monday. And the one player from Wisconsin to make the Round of 64, No. 56 Kelly Specht of Madison, lost 3 down to Canadian Judith Kyrinis, the 2017 U.S. Senior Women's Amateur champ, and the No. 9 seed this week.
U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur
At Fiddlestickls Country Club
Long Means Course
Par 72, 6,164 yards
Fort Myers, Fla.
Stroke play (the top 64 advanced to match play)
1. Jennifer Peng 71-67--138
2. Kelsey Chugg 71-70--141
3. Katie Miller 73-70--143
T4. Krissy Carman 73-70--143
T4. Blakesly Brock 70-73--143
6. Lauren Greenlief 69-75--144
T7. Jacqueline Twitty 73-72--145
T7. Gretchen Johnson 75-70--145
T7. Judith Kyrinis 70-75--145
T10. Mallory Kane 71-75--146
T10. Heather Wall 75-71--146
T10. Tracy Martin 74-72--146
T10. Laura Bavaird 75-71--146
T10. Jacqueline Setas 75-71--146
T10. Dawn Woodard 74-72--146
T10. Clare Connolly 77-69--146
Failed to advance -- 155 (14 played off for 9 spots at 155)
Olivia Herrick 83-84--167
Round of 64
(1) Jennifer Peng def. (64) Connor Macon 2&1
(63) Kate Scarpetta def. (2) Kelsey Chugg 3&2
(3) Katie Miller def. (62) Ashley Freeman 2&1
(4) Blakesly Brock def. (61) Taya Battistella 5&4
(5) Krissy Carman def. (60) Kathy Hartwiger 3&1
(6) Lauren Greenlief def. (59) Susan Glasby 5&3
(7) Jacqueline Twitty def. (58) Sofia Castiello 7&6
(8) Gretchen Johnson def. (57) Sadie Strain 6&5
(9) Judith Kyrinis def. (56) Kiley Specht 3&2
(55) Laine Evans def. (10) Mallory Kane 19 holes