Lani Potter put her golf game under the microscope last year and found a crack.
While the junior from Boulder City had few problems from tee to green, her short game wasn’t up to par.
“Just being around the better players, I was trying to figure out what separated them from me,” Potter said. “And I decided that was the main thing.”
Potter went to work on improving around the greens, and the results have been evident this fall. She has won or shared medalist honors in five of the Eagles’ six matches and established herself as the overwhelming favorite for the individual title when the Class 3A girls tournament tees off next month.
“The one thing that Lani has is she’s a hard worker,” Boulder City coach Andy Schaper said. “She has always been a good ball striker. She has put some time in on chipping and putting and has really improved that part of her game. And I think that’s where you’re starting to see the scores come down.”
Potter, who was introduced to the sport by her father at age 11, finished 10th at the Class 3A (then Division I-A) state tournament as a freshman. Last season, she had the lead after 27 holes at state but couldn’t hold off Faith Lutheran’s hard-charging Sydney Smith.
Smith shot a final-round 67 and won by three strokes over Potter, who went 74-75.
“The state title is definitely my biggest motivation. I’ve been working very hard on my short game to prepare for that,” Potter said. “I was definitely happy for her; that’s amazing. It sticks with me, but in a good way. It motivates me rather than, ‘Dang, I was so close.’ ”
Potter shot 3-under-par 69 at Boulder Creek Golf Club on Sept. 15, the lowest 18-hole score of her high school career. She overcame a slow start Monday to fire a 1-over 37 in the Eagles’ match against Coronado at Boulder Creek and also shot 37 against Green Valley on Sept. 13.
Potter shot 75 in windy conditions Wednesday and was medalist in the Eagles’ Class 3A Sunrise League match at Wildhorse.
“At this level where you’re decent, you can hit the ball, you can get to the greens fine, but if you don’t believe in yourself and you don’t believe that you can make it to that top level, then you won’t,” Potter said. “This year and a little bit last year, I really started to believe that.”
With four-time defending 3A state champion Faith Lutheran out of the picture this season following its move up to Class 4A, Potter is the top returning individual finisher from last year’s 3A state tournament.
Boulder City also will have an opportunity to contend with Elko and Lowry for the team title when the state tournament takes place Oct. 17 and 18 at Ruby View Golf Course in Elko.
“I’m excited for the team, as well as Lani,” Schaper said. “Each match I see our scores coming down, and it’s definitely something we’ve talked about. Again, it goes back to the short game. If the girls can eliminate the mistakes on the greens, I think we’ll be right there to possibly bring home that 3A state title.”
Contact reporter David Schoen at email@example.com or 702-387-5203. Follow on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ