Visualization is common among elite golfers, but it seems unlikely that either of the finalists in the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship might have visualized how the week would unfold, including the end on Thursday.
The winner was Blakesly Brock, 5 and 4, over Aliea Clark on the North Course at Berkeley Hall Club in Bluffton, S.C., in a final featuring two mid-amateur rookies, both 25 years old and former NCAA Division I golfers.
Brock, after falling 1 down through six holes, won six straight holes from a foundering Clark before closing her out with matching pars on 13 and 14.
“I’m speechless,” Brock, who played collegiately at Tennessee, said. “This has been an absolute dream week for me. I’m so happy. The course has been phenomenal. I’ve enjoyed it. The superintendent has done a great job, especially with the rain we had at the start of the week. The USGA has been absolutely incredible. It’s a dream.”
Brock arrived at the U.S. Women’s Mid-Am with confidence, having just won the Tennessee Women’s Mid-Amateur. “Hopped in the car right after the last round and came down for a practice round the very next morning,” she said. “When I showed up at the golf course, I had a feeling. I just had a feeling it was going to be my week. I played great at the Tennessee Mid-Am, and I knew I was good enough to win this golf tournament. I came in not really expecting to win but knowing that I could, and that gave me a lot of confidence.”
Still, who could have foreseen at the outset of the week her winning, at least until she defeated defending champion Shannon Johnson, the No. 2 seed, on the 19th hole in the semifinals.
Meanwhile, Clark, who played collegiately at UCLA, was competing for the first time since the Blue Wave, a tournament hosted by UCLA, in 2017. Then she opened the Mid-Am 36-hole qualifier with an 83 and followed it with a 76 that got her into a five-way tie for 64th and the last qualifying spot for match play. She prevailed and went out as though she was playing with house money.
“Dude, I literally shot 83,” she said earlier in the week. “I shouldn’t be here. I’m just super happy.”
But her run of good fortune expired in the final, when she made bogeys on five of the six holes she lost consecutively.
“It’s tough to think about leaving five-footers on the lip,” Clark said. “She had one lip-out. I had like three at least, three lip-outs. I don’t think mentally I was giving up. I promise I was trying. Maybe it didn’t look like it, but I was trying.
“But yeah, just a couple shots went right. Greens were tough today. I couldn’t get my speed down. I haven’t blasted it past the hole like that ever on this course, since I shot 83. I felt like I did when I shot 83. But it’s okay. I made the finals, it’s great.”