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Luke Potter, 16, is the last man standing after marathon week at Maridoe Amateur

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Luke Potter likes to go it alone on the golf course. When the 16-year-old made his U.S. Amateur debut in August, he carried his own bag. He did the same for the past six days at Maridoe Golf Club in Carrollton, Texas, this week.

When the formula works, you stick to it. Potter got himself through three rounds of stroke play and six more rounds of match play this week at the marathon Maridoe Amateur, a new event for the nation’s top amateurs that unfolded under the watchful eye of U.S. Walker Cup captain Nathaniel Crosby.

“I just like to work alone on the course,” said Potter, from Encinitas, California. “Maridoe is not that hard of a walk so I thought I could do it. I kept my energy and I did just that.”

The field for the event was selected based primarily on rankings, with priority given to U.S. players. It was an overwhelmingly college-age field, with just a handful of juniors. As it turned out, Potter and 18-year-old Preston Summerhays were the last two players standing for Sunday’s 36-hole final.

And they’d had plenty of sparring practice leading up to the title match.

Scores: Maridoe Amateur

Potter recently spent a week at the Summerhays home in Phoenix. They played three or four competitive rounds, which was motivation for each of them. Summerhays, who won the 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur, will arrive on the Arizona State roster next fall. Potter will be there a year later.

It’s good and bad to play a friend under such high stakes, Potter said. He faced the same situation in the Round of 64 against Alexander Yang. Yang conceded Potter few putts.

“I knew Preston’s strengths and weaknesses, same with my buddy Alex’s strengths and weaknesses,” Potter said. “It’s good to play against your buddies, in my opinion. I beat them both so at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter.”

In the final match, the first 18 holes went back and forth with Summerhays getting an early 1-up lead. Potter fought back to lead by as many as three holes and then the two hit the halfway point tied. Potter surged in the afternoon and was 5 up by the time the match hit the back nine. On the par-4 10th hole, he was in the fescue but pulled off a clutch recovery shot from 210 yards – over water, bunkers left and right, couldn’t miss long – to set up a par.

“I striped a 4-iron to about six or seven feet and then when I won that hole, I went 6 up so I kind of knew I was in full control,” he said.

He eventually won by an 8-and-6 margin.

Potter had played three tournaments at Maridoe so far in 2020: The Maridoe Samaritan Fund Invitational 2.0 in May, the Maridoe Junior in June and the Southern Amateur in July.

“Four times a charm for sure,” he said. “Experience really does matter here and this is probably the best field and so I’m happy to win this one.”

After rounds of 73-76-73 in stroke play this week, he landed the No. 3 seed on the 64-man match-play bracket. He named his Round-of-32 match against Baylor’s John Keefer and his quarterfinal match against Oklahoma’s Jonathan Brightwell as being some of the toughest. Still, Potter loves this one-on-one format.

“You can be a little bit more aggressive and things can go against you really quick,” he said. “In that second 18, I got hot and that’s match play.”

As the field shrunk, it allowed players making a deep run to put on a show for Crosby. This isn’t the first time that a spot on the Walker Cup team has crossed Potter’s mind. In February, Potter won the AJGA Simplify Boys Championship on Carlton Woods on the strength of a 10-under 62 in the second round. His 20-under total was a new AJGA record.

“After the big win in Houston earlier this year, I was inside the top 100 in the rankings so it entered my mind there but I had a bad summer so I just kind of threw it out the door,” he said.

Sunday’s final pairing could easily be a match-up you’d find on the last day of the U.S. Junior Amateur, the title many juniors covet. After all, it comes with a U.S. Open exemption.

Both of those events make Potter’s 2021 goal list. He’d like a title in the former and a spot in the latter.

“A U.S. Junior win would be awesome,” he said. “I know it’s a big goal and one tournament. If I can just keep improving, I think I can reach that goal. The U.S. Open being at Torrey Pines in 2021, I’m making that a premium on trying to qualify and hopefully make the cut.”

original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2020/12/06/maridoe-amateur-luke-potter-beats-preston-summerhays/

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