No. 64 Seed Aliea Clark Is in U.S. Women's Mid-Am Quarterfinals

September 28, 2021

BLUFTON, S.C. -- Jennifer Peng beat the field by eight shots in the stroke-play portion of the U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur, setting tournament records for both the low 18-hole and low 36-hole scores with her 70-66--136 on the North Course at the Berkeley Hall Club. And she finished 23 shots ahead of her friend Aliea Clark.

But none of that mattered once the match-play portion of the tournament began, and when the the No. 1 seed and the No. 64 seed faced each other in the Round of 64, it was No. 64 who emerged. Clark posted a 159 total for her two qualifying rounds (83-76), and she had to win a 5-for-1 playoff just to get to match play, which she did with a birdie on the first playoff hole (No. 10, a 481-yard par 5). She then proceeded to shoot a 4-under 68 in her match against Peng, and the result was a 1-up victory. 

This was an extreme example of a trend that's developed in USGA events this summer. Rose Zhang was the medalist in the Girls Junior Championship, and she went on the win the match-play part, as well. In the Boys Junior, top-seeded Kelly Chinn won one match, but he lost in the second round.

Then came the Women's Amateur, and not only did top-seeded Rachel Kuehn lose in the Round of 64, but the No. 63 seed, Jensen Castle, ended up beating the No. 53 seed, Yu-Chiang Hou, 2&1 in the final. 

The No. 1 seed in the Men's Amateur, Mark Goetz, was gone after one round of match play, having lost 1 down to No. 64 David Nyfjal. 

Tim Hogarth was the No. 1 seed in the Senior Amateur. He lost in 21 holes to No. 64 Kory Frost. 

Lara Tennant bucked the trend in the Women's Senior Amateur, where she was the No. seed. She was the co-medalist, along with Gigi Higgins, and she was also the two-time defending champion. She made it in a row this year with a 2&1 victory over former two-time champ Ellen Port. That was her 18th consecutive match-play victory in the Senor Women's Am.  

This week brought two more early departures for the top seeds. Besides Peng, the No. 1 seed in the Men's Mid-Am, Yaroslav Merkulov, was dispatched in the first round. He lost 1 down to No. 64 Haynes Brown. 

Getting back to the Women's Mid-Am, Clark has won two more matches and is in the quarterfinals. After she shot the 68 against Peng, she was 4 over in a 3&2 victory over the No. 32 seed, Ashley Freeman. The number 16 was a recurring theme for Clark on Tuesday, as she was even par for 16 holes and defeated No. 16 Kaylin Crownover in the Round of 16.

On Wednesday, she will take on No. 40 Dawn Woodward, who reserved her place in the quarters by knocking off No. 9 Kimberly Dinh 2&1.

Lara Tennant, by the way, was the No. 4 seed in the Women's Mid-Am, and she made it through two matches before losing 4&2 to No. 20 Ina Kim-Schaad in the Round of 16.

Only two of the top 10 seeds are still alive. No. 2 Shannon Johnson edged No. 15 Tara Joy Connelly 1 up on Tuesday, and No. 7 Lauren Greenlief beat No. 10 Jacquelilne Bendrick 2 up. That means Johnson and Greenlief will play each other Wednesday morning in the quarters.    

U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur

At Berkeley Hall Club -- North Course (par 72)

Blufton, S.C.

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)

Paige McCullough, Maple Grove                      79-84--163

Olivia Herrick, Roseville                                    83-82--165

Alexandra Schilling, Rochester                        85-80--165

Match play

Round of 64

(64) Aliea Clark, New York def. (1) Jennifer Peng 1 up

Round of 32

Clark def. (32) Ashley Freeman, Houston 3&2

Round of 16

Clark def. (16) Kaylin Crownover, Tampa 4&2

(20) Ina Kim Schaad, Rhinebeck, N.Y. def. (4) Lara Tennant, Portland 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

(51) Clare Connolly, Chevy Chase, Md. def. Jamie Freedman 4&3

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