In a battle between future Arizona State University teammates, Luke Potter rode a streak of impressive short-game play to beat Preston Summerhays, 8 and 6, to win the inaugural Maridoe Amateur Championship at Maridoe Golf Club in Carrollton, Texas.
Potter, a 16-year-old from Encinitas, California, arrived into the 36-hole finale as the underdog against Summerhays, the 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur champion and the youngest Sunnehanna Amateur champion. However, it was Potter who landed a sizable bruise to his close friend’s ego, making a barrage of clutch putts and chip-ins to turn what was a competitive first 18 holes of match play into a lopsided victory.
“I just had to play some mistake-free golf after seeing Preston come back during the first 18 holes. He got a little squirrelly off the tee starting the afternoon session and I was able to jump on that with some key birdie putts.”
Potter jumped to a 3-up lead early in the morning session but watched as Summerhays won holes 13, 14, 15 and 16 to claim a 1-up lead of his own. That was short-lived as Potter made a closing birdie at No. 18 and then won six holes on the ensuing nine, going out in what would have been 2-under 33 with normal match-play concessions.
“I just had to play some mistake-free golf after seeing Preston come back during the first 18 holes"
The sixth hole in the afternoon, the 24th of the match, proved emblematic of how Potter’s wizardry around the greens continued to stymie Summerhays. Potter airmailed his approach to the par-4 and then left his ensuing pitch short, but deftly got up and down to salvage bogey from an awkward position. The two tied the hole with bogeys and Potter did not lose another hole the rest of the way.
“He’s the kind of player who if he gets any sort of momentum, he can go to work,” Potter said. “I just didn’t want to give him a chance to do that.”
After 54 holes of stroke play and six rounds of match play across seven days – Potter carried his bag the entire competition despite tough conditions on a long, taxing golf course – he enjoyed a Shirley Temple in the clubhouse and took time to relish in a big victory against a stout field of notable collegiate and junior players. It’s the second significant win for Potter this year after he became the youngest winner of the South California Amateur in August.
“I’m tired, but to get the win, it all pays off,” Potter said.
As for Summerhays, his continued strong play and pedigree as a USGA champion would seem to bode well for him as he looks forward to a possible U.S. Walker Cup team selection this spring. While he was not included on the 16-person practice squad that will meet later this month at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge, Summerhays’ performance in front of American captain Nathaniel Crosby undoubtedly boosted his chances.
The inaugural Maridoe Amateur Championship came across as a rousing success during a quiet time on the amateur calendar, and it will return June 9-14, 2021, with an expanded field of 144 players.
Maridoe also will stage the 2021 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, on April 24-28; the Maridoe Junior Invitational starting on May 9; and the Maridoe Collegiate Invitational in September. The individual winner of the Maridoe Collegiate Invitational, a battle between 15 top teams, will receive an exemption into the 2021 Houston Open.
Oklahoma State senior Austin Eckroat was slated to play in the Maridoe Amateur Championship, but he snagged an invitation to play in the PGA Tour’s Mayakoba Golf Classic and chose to travel to Mexico instead.
He made the most of this opportunity, recording a T12 finish with a 14-under-par 270. Eckroat, ranked No. 17 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and No. 4 on the PGA Tour University list, shot up the leaderboard Sunday after posting five consecutive birdies on the front nine. He signed for a 6-under par on the final day of his first PGA Tour event.
Recently invited to the USGA’s Walker Cup practice squad, Eckroat hopes to be selected to play the match next May at Seminole Golf Club before turning professional.
Staff and Wire Reports