No. 64 Seed Last Year and No. 27 This Year -- Clark Is in Women's Mid-Am Final Again
September 21, 2022
By Michael R Fermoyle
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Aliea Clark is a 26-year-old graduate student at New York University, where she is pursuing a dual degree -- an MBA from the Stern School of Business and an MFA from Tisch School of the Arts.
She also plays golf, and does it very well, although she tends to warm up to a competiltion. Last year, she shot first-round 83 at Berkeley Hall Club in Bluffton, S.C. in the first round of stroke-play part of the U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur. She rallied in the second round with a 76, and then won a 5-for-1 playoff to get the No. 64 seed for match play. That put her into a Round of 64 match against Jennifer Peng, the No. 1 seed and a former Yale University star who had just set a tournament record of 136 (70-66) -- 23 shots better than Clark's score in qualifying.
But Clark was 1 under par against Peng, and she beat the record-setting medalist 1 up. She went on to win four more matches, never seeing the 17th tee in any of them, before losing 5&4 to Blakesly Brock in the final. She thus became only the second No. 64 seed to reach the championship match in a USGA tournament. Alexandria Frazier was the first. She lost 2&1 to Mina Hardin in the 2010 U.S. Senior Women's Amateur at the Fiddlesticks Country Club's Long Means Course -- in Fort Myers.
(Frazier's first match that year was against No. 1 seed -- and medalist -- Leigh Klasse, who won the first of her 11 MGA Senior Women's Amateur titles in 2010. But Frazier defeated Klasse 1 up in their Round of 64 match.)
Earlier this summer, Clark, who played college golf at UCLA, was the only mid-am (25 years old and older) to advance to match play in the U.S. Women's Amateur at Chambers Bay.
And now she's back in the Mid-Am, and the tournament is being played on the Long Means Course at Fiddlesticks CC, the same course where Frazier made her run to the Senior Women's Am final 12 years ago. Once again, Clark got off to a slow start, shooting 78 in the first round of stroke play. But she came back with a 1-under 71 in the second round. The resulting 36-hole total of 149 got her the No. 27 seed (Brock was the No. 27 seed last year), and once again, Clark is in the championship match.
This time, she'll be taking on the No. 5 seed, Krissy Carman.
Since that opening 78, Clark hasn't been more than 1 over par in any of her rounds. But Carman has been even better. She opened with a 73 and followed it with a 70. Her 143 aggregate was solo fifth in qualifying; so she's the No. 5 seed. Her first match was against No. 60 Kathy Hartwiger, the 2002 Mid-Am champion. Carman was 3 over in that one, and won 3&1.
Since then, she's been 3 under, 1 under, 3 under and 1 under in her matches. She's needed only 76 holes to get to the final. Clark has played 85.
The defending champion, Brock, was eliminated by Kimberly Dinh, 4&3 in the Round of 16. Carman then beat Dinh 4&3 in the quarterfinals, and was 3 under for 15 holes in the process. In the semifinals Wednesday afternoon, Carman took on Peng, the medalist and No. 1 seed again this year (with a 71-67--138 in qualifying). Peng, who had just dismissed four-time Mid-Am champ Meghan Stasi (No. 24), 2 up in the quarters, grabbed an early lead by winning the 359-yard, par-4 second hole with a par. Carman pulled even by winning the par-5 fourth (518 yards) with a par, and she went ahead for good when she won the sixth (357, par 4) with a par.
Starting on the third hole, Carman made nine pars in a row. She went 2 up when she won the par-4 10th (364), but Peng sliced her lead in half with a birdie at the 489-yard, par-5 11th. The two-time Mid-Am medalist parred the next five holes, only to lose two of them -- the par-4 12th (348) and par-4 15th (367) -- to Carman's birdies, and Carman, a 27-year-old former Oregon State golfer (her mother played golf for Oregon State, too) closed Peng out, 3&2, by halving the 403-yard, par-416th hole with a par.
Carman, who lives in Eugene, won the Oregon Stroke Play Championship this summer. She was also the medalist in the Oregon State Amateur, and finished second in the Oregon State Mid-Amateur.
Weather delays had this tournament a day and a half behind by the time the stroke-play portion had been completed, and Wednesday was a marathon day, as the USGA played catch-up. Both finalists had to finish a Round of 16 match -- and then play their quarterfinal and semifinal matches.
For Carman, that entailed 32 holes -- one hole Wednesday morning to polish off the No. 21 seed, Ana Alicia Malagon Perez, 4&3, followed by 15 in her 4&3 victory over No. 20 Dinh, and 16 in the 3&2 triumph over Peng.
Clark had a substantially longer day -- 44 holes, in all. She started with the last seven holes of her 5&3 victory over 2019 Mid-Am champ Ina Kim-Schaad, the No. 22 seed. Next up was No. 14 Jacqueline Setas. Clark was 1 down after 17 holes, but won the 499-yard, par-5 18th with a par, and she birdied the par-5 19th to eliminate Setas. In her semifinal against No. 26 Isabella DiLisio, Clark was 2 down after DeLisio won the par-5 fourth with a birdie, but Clark proceeded to birdie the next three holes in a row -- the 179-yard, par-3 fifth, the par-4 sixth and the 335-yard, par-4 seventh.
DiLisio squared the match with a birdie at the par-5 11th. Yet another weather delay interrupted the proceedings at that point, and when play was resumed DiLisio made birdie putt from just inside 12 feet at the the par-4 12th -- but so did Clark, to avoid falling 1 down. Clark parred the last six holes, and she went 1 up when DiLisio bogeyed the 370-yard, par-4 14th. After that, pars were all Clark needed to secure her 1-up victory and a place oppositie Carman, who had ended her day on the course three hours earlier.
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
Round of 32
(1) Peng def. (32) Lila Thomas 2 up
(63) Kate Scarpetta def. (34) Talia Campbell 19 holes
(30) Jackie Rogowicz def. (3) Miller 5&4
(4) Brock def. (29) Julia Potter-Bobb 20 holes
(5) Carman def. (28) Alexandra Austin 6&5
(27) Aliea Clark def. (6) Greenlief 3&2
(26) Isabella DiLisio def. (7) Jacqueline Twitty 19 holes
(8) Johnson def. (25) Lexie Toth 3&1
(24) Meghan Stasi def. (9) Kyrinis 1 up
(42) Courtney McKim def. (55) Evans 2 up
Round of 16
(1) Peng def. (17) Lindsay Gahm 2&1
(63) Scarpetta def. (47) Amanda Jacobs 6&5
(14) Jacqueline Setas def. (30) Rogowicz 1 up
(20) Kimberly Dinh def. (4) Brock 4&3
(5) Carman def. (21) Ana Alicia Malagon Perez 4&3
(27) Clark def. (22) Ina Kim-Schaad 5&3
(26) DiLisio def. ((42) Courtney McKim 3&1
(24) Meghan Stasi def. (8) Johnson 2&1
(1) Peng def. (24) Stasi 2 up
(26) DiLisio def. (63) Scarpetta 3&2
(5) Carman def. (20) Dinh 4&3
(27) Clark def. (14) Setas 19 holes
(5) Carman def. (1) Peng 3&2
(27) Clark def. (26) DiLisio 1 up