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Sports Talk: Encinitas golfers bring home SCGA Amateur championships

Two North County golfers seldom cried, “Fore!” when winning a pair of prestigious events.

“It’s like Encinitas has become a hub for golf,” Jaime Jacob said.

Jacob and Luke Potter recently won their divisions at the Southern California Golf Association’s Amateur Championship tournaments. Both share the same city, and high school, La Costa Canyon.

Jacob, 22, went on to star at Cal State University San Marcos, where she won the Division II national title, while leading the squad to a runner-up finish for the team crown.

Potter, 16, who paced the Mavericks to the state title last year, became the youngest player to win the men’s SCGA Am and that’s over 121 years.

“Age doesn’t really matter,” Potter said. “We’re all playing the same course. It’s all about if you have the game.”

Potter rallied from five shots behind in the final round as his 10-under par 62 forced a three-hole playoff with Torrey Pines’ Caden Fioroni. When Potter drained a long putt on the final hole, the title was his.

Jacob finished first in her last tournament as an amateur and, like Potter, did so with a flair at Mira Loma’s Goose Creek Golf Club.

She started the final day one shot back and she was down two at the turn. Five birdies on the back nine allowed Jacob to hoist the trophy as her three-day score of 10-under set a tournament record.

While Jacob smiled, Greg Hutton, her CSUSM coach, shrugged.

“She prepares for tournaments with a mindset of winning,” Hutton said. “I’m pretty sure every time Jaime tees it up, she believes she can win.”

Both players thank their dads for pointing them toward golf, and just maybe fathers do know best.

P.J. Potter let his youngster tag along to Escondido’s Hodges Golf Learning Center.

“He would go there to practice so I just grabbed a club and started swinging,” said Potter, who started working then with his coach, Greg Casagranda.

Jacob’s youth had a whiff of chlorine.

Her sibling, Michelle, was a star swimmer and that was, begrudgingly, Jacob’s athletic lane, too. She rode shotgun with her to the Solana Beach Boys and Girls Club.

“That was where the car was going so as a younger sister that was where I went,” Jacob said. “But in sixth grade I quit swimming because I wanted to do something else.”

The golf bug bit Jacob while she was trying not to be a pest to her dad, Jim Jacob, when he practiced at the Encinitas Ranch Golf Course.

“He would get a bucket of balls and that’s where I started,” she said. “It was a little frustrating in the beginning, but I ended up sticking with it.

“It was something I could do alone and I my introverted self appreciated that. It was really quiet and it ended up being a good match. I just took a funny way of getting there.”

Jacob, who is coached by Encinitas Ranch’s Doug Timmons, is on the move again. She’ll play the Cactus Tour and other events as she vies for the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour.

“That’s my goal,” she said. “Ideally I would love to play on the LPGA Tour but I’m comfortable falling back on my degree, too.”

Jacob isn’t just a golf ace. Her high GPA while earning a degree in global business management was as impressive as her low scores.

Potter, who has committed to Arizona State University, is similar to Jacob in aiming to putt for dough.

“I would like to be on the PGA Tour and play golf for a living,” said Potter, who earlier this summer was the youngest participant at the U.S. Amateur Championship. “The competition and winning is what drives me.”

Potter’s title, which followed Jacob’s, delivered a perfect pair of accomplishments for a city known for those riding waves.

“I’m not much into surfing,” Potter said.

Instead he shreds golf courses, much like Jacob.

Contact Jay Paris at [email protected]. Follow him @jparis_sports.