Scarpetta Writing Her Own Underdog Story in Rainy Florida
35th U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur Home
Kate Scarpetta is a budding screenwriter whose dream is to produce the next classic golf feature on a major network or streaming service. Maybe the 33-year-old from Crystal Lake, Pa., can find inspiration from her own performance this week at the 35th U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship.
Scarpetta, one of the last players to get into the match-play draw via a 14-for-9 playoff on Monday, has the perfect Cinderella narrative brewing on the Long Mean Course at Fiddlesticks Country Club in Fort Myers, Fla. The No. 63 seed continued her underdog run on a stormy Tuesday along Florida’s western coast with a 19-hole victory in the Round of 32 over 2019 runner-up Talia Campbell, of New York, N.Y.
Her Round-of-16 match against Amanda Jacobs, of Portland, Ore., was suspended due to darkness at 7:25 p.m. EDT with Scarpetta holding a 6-up lead through 10 holes.
A 2-hour, 55-minute suspension due to afternoon thunderstorms threw a wrench into the schedule as none of the eight Round-of-16 matches were completed. The round is expected to resume at 7:30 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, followed by the quarterfinals.
This is the second consecutive year one of the last players to qualify for match play has made a run. In 2021 at Berkeley Hall Club in Bluffton, S.C., Aliea Clark became just the second No. 64 seed to reach a USGA amateur final (joining Alexandria Frazier, in the 2010 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur) before losing to Blakesly Brock in the 18-hole final.
Both Brock and Clark are among the final 16 this year, the former surviving a 20-hole match in the Round of 32 against two-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Julia Potter-Bobb, of Indianapolis, Ind., on Tuesday and the latter defeating 2015 champion Lauren Greenlief, of Ashburn, Va., 3 and 2. Brock, of Chattanooga, Tenn., is 4 down to lefty Kimberly Dinh, of Midland, Mich., through 13 holes. Clark and 2019 champion Ina Kim-Schaad, both native Southern Californians who now reside in Metropolitan New York, were in a tight battle through eight holes (Clark led 1 up).
Scarpetta, who took writing classes at Princeton taught by noted authors Joyce Carol Oates and Edmund White, has had 12 works of short fiction published and recently contributed to the Deadspin website.
Before becoming a screenwriter, the former captain of the Princeton women’s golf team tried her hand at professional golf, competing on the Epson, Canadian and Australia women’s tours. It didn’t take long for her to realize she would rather collect a check producing stories about the game instead living off her performances.
Three years ago, she regained her amateur status and now can mix her two passions: writing and golf. Last year, she caddied for seven-time USGA champion and World Golf Hall of Fame inductee Carol Semple Thompson in the U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield, Conn.
Inspired by all of these experiences, Scarpetta has pitched a women’s golf television show to HBO Max, Starz and Apple TV. Perhaps there will be more interest if she can win this championship, earning a spot in next year’s U.S. Women’s Open Presented by ProMedica at iconic Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links.
After upsetting No. 2 seed and 2017 champion Kelsey Chugg, Scarpetta outlasted Campbell with a birdie on the par-5 19th hole.
“I really wanted to write a story about golf, and I am figuring out different ways to tell that,” said Scarpetta of her screenwriting. “That was the first show I pitched. It didn’t sell, but at the same time, I would love for that to be rebooted. I want to write the next best golf feature or the next golf TV show. It’s never been done. Caddyshack is my favorite movie, so that’s the inspiration for now.”
Another ex-Ivy Leaguer, medalist and top seed Jennifer Peng, survived for a second consecutive day, ousting Lila Thomas, of Dallas, Texas, 2 up. Like her opening-round encounter, Peng spotted her opponent a 2-up lead, but she rallied to take control with four consecutive birdies from No. 5. While Thomas, a former Stanford University golfer, battled back with wins on 11 and 12 to tie the match, Peng’s winning par on No. 15 and conceded eagle on the par-5 closing hole were enough to advance.
“Honestly, I didn't even realize [it],” said Peng of the four consecutive birdies. “I was chatting to [my caddie and] … we were kind of like driver, approach, putt; just focusing on each shot, each hole, so [it] just kind of worked out that way.”
Peng held a 1-up lead over Lindsay Gahm, of Louisville, Ky., through 16 holes of their Round-of-16 match when play was halted.
Besides Brock, who rallied from a 2-down deficit with two to play in eliminating lefty Potter-Bobb by hitting a 113-yard, 48-degree wedge to 2 feet for birdie on the 20th hole, two other U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champions reached the Round of 16. Ina Kim-Schaad, of New York, N.Y., the 2019 titlist, outlasted Heather Wall, of Lakeland, Fla., in 20 holes. Wall, the head women’s golf coach at NCAA Division II Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Fla., held a 1-up lead going to the 17th tee, but saw Kim-Schaad win the hole with a birdie and then the match three holes later with a par.
Four-time champion Meghan Stasi, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., held off a strong fight from 2017 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champion Judith Kyrinis, of Canada, 1 up. Neither competitor led by more than a hole the entire match, with Stasi’s conceded birdie on the par-4 16th hole being the difference. Stasi and Gretchen Johnson were tied through 14 holes of their Round-of-16 match.
USGA officials hope to finish the Round of 16 on Wednesday morning and then start the quarterfinal matches shortly thereafter. It is likely the semifinals and 18-hole championship match will be contested on Thursday. Spectators are welcome to attend, and admission is free.
“Yeah, I think with a rain delay you kind of have to go back in, [and keep] doing the same thing, knowing the course is a little bit wetter. [You know] the greens are rolling a little slower than before the rain. But nothing too crazy or different.” – medalist Jennifer Peng on dealing with weather delays
“I think there was a little bit of adrenaline off the tee. That was the best tee shot I've hit all week.” – defending champ Blakesly Brock on her drive at the 20th hole that led to a winning 2-foot birdie in the Round of 32
“These greens, they are running so pure that every day I am feeling more and more confident on them. I felt really confident with the putter. So the last two putts, the one on 18, it was kind of a knee-knocker [for par]. I feel good on the greens, and I hope I sleep on it and wake up the same way.” – Kate Scarpetta on how she closed out her 19-hole, Round-of-32 win
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com. Jonathan Coe, a senior manager of championship communications for the USGA, contributed to this article from Fiddlesticks Country Club.