2006: Potter pursuing perfection

Women's Rankings »

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1Alison LeeUCLA  69.59 
2Annie ParkUSC  69.73 
3Yu LiuDuke  69.81 
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1Southern California 70.32 
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Jessica Potter’s game is anything but ugly. When the sweet-swinging junior at the University of San Francisco practices, perfection is the only option.

During a practice round a few weeks ago at the Meadow Club outside of San Francisco, Potter called head coach Josh Cupp over to examine a problem with her swing. After rifling a driver down the 12th fairway, she lined up an

8-iron from 139 yards. Potter reeled back and slung a dart directly at the flag stick. Her ball bounced a couple of times on the green, hit the pin and stopped 6 inches from the hole.

“She puts her club on the ground, leans up against it and looks at me and says, ‘My swing is so disgusting right now,’ ” Cupp said. “If I would have hit that shot, I would have been telling everyone about it.”

Potter, 20, contended that the ball came off her club face thin and it was pure luck that the ball hit the flag. “Honestly, it was a bad shot,” she said.

Regardless, Potter expects the process to be seamless. It’s why she spent the summer at home in Coquitian, British Columbia, focusing more on practice than play, limiting herself to only three competitive events.

“I am very hard on myself in practice,” said Potter. “I can be too much of a perfectionist at times, going for the perfect swing and the perfect stroke. But when it comes down to it, my tournament mentality is a little different. Once I’m on the course, all I have is the game I’ve brought that day, and I try to work with that, whether it’s good or bad.”

After spending the summer working on a number of swing changes, Potter teed it up at the Canadian Ladies Amateur in August. Believing she was without her “A” game, Potter outlasted Veronique Drouin in a one-hole playoff to win the title.

“I was kind of just stunned on the first green when I won,” said Potter, who gained an exemption into the 2007 CN Canadian Women’s Open, an LPGA event. “I like to think you can win ugly. That comforts me when I’m not playing well. I try to have a fighting mentality and try to shoot the best number I can.”

It’s an attitude Potter said she gained after a frank conversation with Cupp following a freshman season in which she finished

No. 177 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. The two discussed what Potter’s life would be like after graduation.

“I asked her if she wanted to play golf after school and she was really wishy-washy about it,” Cupp said.

Potter certainly has other options. In addition to maintaining a 3.7 GPA as an exercise and sports science major, Potter also is taking pre-med requirements so she can apply to dental school after graduation. Balancing golf and school needed extra attention, so she made a list of goals to accomplish during her sophomore campaign. At the top of the list: a vow to renew her focus on golf and spend extra time reshaping her swing and game.

It worked.

Last year, she rose to No. 64 in the rankings thanks to eight top-10 finishes in 10 events, including a victory at the Oregon Duck Invitational. Potter qualified for the NCAA West Regional as an individual and was named to the All-West Coast Conference first team.

Potter started this season with a pair of top-15 finishes for the Dons. But she expects more of herself. She lives the “practice makes perfect” motto as if it were tattooed on her arm. But in golf, she is learning perfection is rare.

“I try my hardest not to be too hard on myself,” she said. “I can get too mechanical and I can practice way too hard on my swing.”

For her coach, however, Potter’s work ethic is a thing of beauty.

“She does grind and she has tremendous heart,” Cupp said. “And she works really hard when she has a bad ballstriking day. . . . That’s Jessica Potter in a nutshell.”

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