NAPLES, Florida — Krissy Carman of Eugene, Oregon, may have had Mickey Mouse on her mind, but Fiddlesticks Country Club was her happiest place on earth Thursday afternoon.
Carman two-putted the 17th hole for par to win the 35th US Women’s Mid-Am Championship 2-and-1 over Aliea Clark of New York.
“We’re going to Disney World!” cheered Carman, who was greeted by her family wearing matching Hawaiian shirts and received a big hug from her two-year-old son Conrad on the 17th green.
“I, especially as a mom, am super grateful. It was hard to come back after giving birth, I never thought this would happen but always hopped and look where we are now, wow!” said Carman, who became the first mother to win the title since Ellen Port in 2011.
Aliea Clark, left and Krissy Carman with the trophy before the start of the final round at the 2022 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur at Fiddlesticks Country Club (Long Mean Course) in Fort Myers on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022. (Photo by Darren Carroll, USGA)
Although not going her way, Clark said she was happy to reach the final again. The 26-year-old reached the 2021 final as a No. 64 seed and joins Page Marsh Lea (1988-89) as the only players to lose consecutive championship matches in the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity, and I absolutely love each girl I played against this week,” Clark said. “They are quality individuals inside and out and I think I made genuine friends.”
Carman will have her name engraved on the Mildred Gardiner Punaret Trophy and punched her way to the U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach next July.
The win did not come easy.
Clark, 27, took the lead through three holes after making a par on hole one. Carman bogeyed, putting her 1-down before tying it back up on hole four with a respectable birdie. With both players being very consistent, Carman set herself up for another birdie, draining the putt on the seventh hole to go 1 up over Clark.
Clark fired back right away, taking advantage of her opponent’s mistakes of missing greens. These missed greens cost Carman pars on holes 8 and 9. Clark only had to make back-to-back pars to get herself from 1-down to 1-up.
Krissy Carman holds the trophy after winning the 2022 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur at Fiddlesticks Country Club (Long Mean Course) in Fort Myers on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022. (Photo by Darren Carroll, USGA)
After hole 11, the match was all square until hole 15. Clark made bogey putting Carman 1-up with three to play.
Hole 16 was halved with two pars. Carman was first to tee off on the par-3 17th. Her shot was pin seeking but drawing left. The ball caught the skirt of the green and got a great kick towards the hole. Clark’s tee shot was looking good, right on line with the flag. Unfortunately, she came up just short, hitting the face of the bunker leaving her with a difficult shot.
Giving her best efforts to save par, Clark came up short, missing the putt and making a bogey.
“I practice putting all the time and you know you can’t win if the putts do not go in the hole,” said Clark.
“The putter was not working for me today. It sucks to have a match with no birdies on the scorecard, brutal.”
The course was set up to test and frustrate players and the tournament director Lora Nochta said it did just that.
“We focus on testing skill levels, driving accuracy, creativity and their mental game,” said Nochta. “We set this course up firm, fast and long making sure to alternate the course each day and to make it challenging for them.”