Arriving at Mystic Creek Golf Club in El Dorado early Sunday morning, Palmer McSpadden knew he might face former Fayetteville teammate Sam Tandy.

The pair needed to win their respective semi-finals first, but McSpadden backed his friend. He thought playing for a title against Tandy would put him at ease.

McSpadden got his wish. Then he made the most of it.

McSpadden held off Tandy 2 and 1 to win the 2022 Arkansas State Golf Association Match Play Championship, tying the 17th hole to close the door after leading by three with three holes to play.

For the University of Central Arkansas junior, it was his first ASGA amateur title after winning the junior championship in 2020.

“It really meant a lot just because I had a great week with my friends,” McSpadden said. “Playing this course for the first time, it was such an awesome course. …It’s really challenging while still being fair.”

McSpadden and Tandy, a junior from Harding University, shared the first two holes before Tandy birdied the third. McSpadden’s approach to the fourth allowed him to birdie that hole and tie the game.

From there, he extended his lead to 2 and extended it to three.

McSpadden said playing up front allowed him to stick to his game plan and not put extra pressure on himself.

“I felt really comfortable,” he said. “I couldn’t lose in regular time – we were going to have to make the playoffs [going into the 16th hole] so that’s when I felt like I really got it.”

McSpadden played in the US Amateur last summer but suffered an injury before UCA’s fall season and did no better than tied for 26th in one of his five events. of spring.

The Fayetteville native is optimistic he can build on his success from last week for his upcoming college season.

“I had a lot of momentum at the start of last season,” McSpadden said. “It’s my first win since the injury, so it feels really good to come back and I feel like I have that momentum again.”