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Charlie Reiter earns lopsided victory in California State Amateur Golf Championship

Palm Desert’s Charlie Reiter took a huge lead in the morning 18 holes and took a 5 and 4 win to win the 111th California State Amateur golf championship on Saturday.

Reiter, a former Palm Desert High School star who most recently played at the University of San Diego, finished 3 of 15 on the morning 18 hole at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach. Reiter then won the 16th, 17th and 18th holes to take a 6th lead into the lunch break.

Reiter didn’t slow down in the afternoon 18 holes, winning the 20th, 21st and 23rd holes to go 9-up with 13 holes to play against El Dorado Hills’ Kevin Huff. Huff, who won just two holes on the morning 18, extended the match by winning four holes out of five from the 27th hole. But when Reiter and Huff tied the 32nd hole, Reiter closed the match.

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In the match-play format, a winner is determined by the holes won in the match rather than the total number of strokes for 18 holes, with the match ending when one player leads by more holes than remain to be played . Reiter posted 11 3s and a 2 on his scorecard in his 32 holes.

The victory comes two years after Reiter lost in the 36-hole final of the 2020 event, a 3 and 2 loss to Joey Vzrich.

Reiter’s margin of victory was the largest in the championship since 2016. Hall of Famer and US Open winner Johnny Miller holds the record with a 12 and 10 win in 1968, a record Reiter threatened on Saturday before the Huff rally.

Big win last summer as an amateur

The victory is a major milestone for Reiter in his last summer as an amateur golfer. Reiter, 22, is already qualified for the US Amateur in August as he qualified for the US Open in June at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass. He plans to qualify for development on the PGA Tour’s Korn Ferry Tour in the fall.

Past California championship winners with desert ties include Dr. Frank Taylor, winner of the 1954 and 1955 events, and John Cook, who lived part-time at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage and won the title in 1975. Past winners who have enjoyed professional success include Ken Venturi, Miller, Cook, Mark O’Meara and most recently Xander Schauffele.

Reiter reached the final against Huff by surviving his toughest match of the week on Friday in the semifinals. Reiter won the 1-up semi-final match against Berkeley’s Kuangyu Chen, the only time in the first four games Reiter had been forced to play the 18th hole.

Reiter started Friday with a 4-and-3 quarterfinal win over San Diego’s Tyler Kowack. Reiter fell behind in the match with a loss on the third hole, but won four of the next seven holes to take control of the match on his way to an easy win.

In the semis, Reiter again fell behind early losing the second hole, but won the third hole to tie the game and took his first lead with a birdie-2 to win the seventh hole. Reiter and Chen then halved seven consecutive holes before Reiter took a 2 lead with a winning 3 on the 15th hole. Chen won on the 16th hole to reduce Reiter’s lead to 1-up, but the pair tied 4s on the 17th hole and 5s on the 18th hole to give Reiter the win.