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Carman returns to golf, wins U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur

Krissy Carman of Eugene, Ore. completed a remarkable return to golf by defeating Aliea Clark, 2 and 1, in the final match to win the 2022 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship, held this week on the Long Mean Course at Fiddlesticks Country Club in Fort Myers, Fla.

All in the Family: left to right are Suzanne Peterson (Krissy’s mom), Krissy Carman, 2-year-old son Conrad, and husband Mitchell (who caddied for Krissy all week), who were all smiles after Krissy’s win. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

The win capped a week in which Carman shot one-under par in stroke-play qualifying to earn the No. 5 seed in the match-play bracket, then won six straight matches, never having a match go as far as the 18th hole.

The final match against Clark was set up by Carman’s 3 and 2 win over No. 1 seed Jennifer Peng in a semifinal match.

In the final, Clark was 1-up after 10 holes, but Carman then strung together seven consecutive pars while her opponent struggled to find the putting touch that carried her throughout the week.

Winning pars on Nos. 15 and 17 eventually sealed the title for Carman, the latter coming when Clark failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker on the 142-yard par 3.

This is the second year in a row in which Clark made it to the final match, only to finish runner-up.

Carman, 27, did not play competitive golf from 2018-2021. She had attended Oregon State University for two years before transferring to Portland State University, where she played on the women’s golf team and twice earned All-Big Sky Conference honors. She had also won the 2016 Oregon Women’s Amateur.

She then got married to husband Mitchell and had a son, Conrad. “I had a really hard delivery with Conrad,” Carman said. “I didn’t get to play at all that summer after he was born (in 2020). It wasn’t until the following spring, summer, we just went out to Pine Ridge Golf Course out in Springfield (Ore.) and decided to bring him in the jogging stroller. I strapped my clubs up underneath and he just loved it. We were like, okay, we’ll play nine, see how it goes. We were able to play 18, and then we did it again and then we did it again, and then we realized that this could be a thing.”

Carman became the first mother to win this national championship since Ellen Port in 2011.

Once back on the course, Carman racked up a win at the 2022 Oregon Women’s Stroke Play Championship, earned medalist honors at the Oregon Women’s Amateur, then a runner-up finish at the Oregon Women’s Mid-Amateur. She qualified for the 2022 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur and everything came together.

With the win, Carman earns a gold medal and takes possession of the Mildred Gardiner Prunaret Trophy for a year. She also has earned a spot in the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open Presented by ProMedica at Pebble Beach Golf Links; an exemption into the 2023 and 2024 U.S. Women’s Amateur; and an exemption into the next 10 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championships.

Competing in her second USGA national championship (she had previously qualified for the 2018 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball), Carman exemplifies the mid-amateur golfer whose competitive game takes a backseat to family.

“Honestly, it’s surreal for me just to be able to talk with other women who are in the same scenario most of the time,” said Carman. “It was super awesome to be able to play with [2002 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion] Kathy [Hartwiger] in my first match. On the first tee she was actually like, when I won at Eugene [Country Club], my son was a 2-year-old, too. I was like, I can do this. She did it, I can do it. Just having that inspiration, I guess.”

It turned out to be quite a week along Florida’s Gulf Coast for the entire Carman family. Husband Mitch served as Krissy’s caddie, while her 67-year-old mother, Suzanne Peterson, who preceded her as an Oregon State University golfer, took care of young Conrad, born just days before COVID-19 shut down the country in March 2020.

“I’m in disbelief; feels amazing,” said Carman with a smile. “Obviously I planned out our outfits for the week. I was just hoping that we would be able to wear all the matching ones, and it happened.”

Golf has been in Carman’s DNA since she was a toddler in Eugene, Ore. Suzanne and her late husband, Richard, met at Rose City Golf Course in Portland, and Krissy followed her mom to Oregon State before transferring to Portland State prior to her junior season. In 2018, she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball with partner Hannah Swanson, but once she got married and had Conrad, the game took a backseat to family.

“My siblings, everyone was just like, do it, do it, do it,” said Carman. “It’s incredible. I just had so much support the past couple weeks and past couple months playing in events again.”

Carman joins a list of USGA national champions who have come from Oregon, including Jeff Quinney (2000 U.S. Amateur), Peter Jacobsen (2004 U.S. Senior Open), Lara Tennant (2018-19, 2021 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur), Mary Budke (1972 U.S. Women’s Amateur), Jason Allred (1997 U.S. Junior Amateur), Eric Johnson (1980 U.S. Junior Amateur) and John Fought (1977 U.S. Amateur).