U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Clark's Women's Amateur Gamble Pays Off
August 10, 2015 | Portland, Ore.
By Lisa D. Mickey
It’s a good thing Aliea Clark likes to run. And it’s even better that she has already mastered multi-tasking.
Attending summer school at UCLA and also competing in this week’s U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, Clark signed for her opening 1-over-par score of 73 on Monday at Portland Golf Club before heading back to her hotel to study.
Clark’s mad dash between competitive golf and college classes started more than a month ago at a Women’s Amateur qualifier at Vista Valley Country Club.
She played her morning round, signed her score card and drove nearly two hours to make it to class at UCLA 10 minutes late. The qualifier awarded eight spots and Clark had moved into that position. But had there been a playoff, Clark knew she would have forfeited her spot.
Clark’s UCLA teammate, Lydia Choi, was the medalist with a 69, so she provided updates from the site. By the time Clark had reached campus, Choi let her know she was one of two players tied for seventh, which meant Clark had qualified without a playoff, or a forfeit.
UCLA operates on the quarter system and some prerequisite classes are difficult for student-athletes to take with practice and in-season tournaments. Many of them, like Clark, 19, of Carlsbad, Calif., must take summer classes when top amateur events are held.
Clark has class all day each Monday and Wednesday, and works at the Santa Monica-based law firm Antoni Albus, LLP as a legal assistant every Tuesday and Thursday, where she files, scans and assists the legal team. She gets Fridays off, which is when she practices golf.
She missed class on Monday, but has been studying for a mid-term exam next Monday. If she advances to match play, she will also miss class on Wednesday. If she fails to qualify for match play, she will fly back to Los Angeles Tuesday night in time for class on Wednesday morning.
“I have some classmates taking the same classes, so they help me catch up,” said Clark, who earned As in her first two classes this summer. “I let my professors know about this tournament a month ago as soon as I qualified, so they were able to make some arrangements for me.”
While most players would have never left a qualifying site until they knew they were safely in the field, Clark reasoned that she had “shot a 71, had a great day, played good golf” and would play in the championship if it was meant to be.
“For me, school always comes first and I want good grades in the summer,” she said. “I don’t go to class every day not to do my best.”
Lisa D. Mickey is a Florida-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.