When he’s playing his best, men’s golf sophomore Max Marsico believes he can compete with anyone in the country.

If you don’t take his word for it, check his record. Marsico has been the low scorer for Penn in 11 of 18 tournaments since his arrival, and he currently boasts a 71.2 stroke average, the team’s lowest.

Last summer, he qualified for the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. He took the No. 1 amateur in the country, Patrick Cantlay, to the 18th hole of the final round of the Southern California Amateur Championship as well.

Cantlay was tied for 14th after the first round of the Masters yesterday, and Marsico hopes for similar success in his future.

“I do think I’m one of the top players in the country,” Marsico said. “I want to get to the point where I play my best not only one week, but every week.

“This summer was definitely a confidence-builder because it definitely helps to see some results that let you know that you can do it.”

Coach Scott Allen expected Marsico to be successful as an amateur.

“I knew when we got a commitment out of Max he was going to be a real special player,” Allen said. “He was looking at some other golf programs that are in the top 10 in the country, but I think the academics at Penn obviously set us apart. I knew he was going to be the real deal when he got here.”

Marsico looks forward to events hosted by more competitive clubs and schools outside of the Ivy League, where he can better measure himself against some of the premier amateurs in the country.

The Quakers have participated in more national tournaments recently and have gone up against schools from major conferences such as the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“The only thing that keeps him from being ranked there in the NCAA computers right now is strength of schedule,” Allen said. “We’re going to try to toughen up our schedule a little bit so Max can get more opportunities to mix it up a little bit with the guys that are ranked ahead of him.”

“Anybody looks forward to playing better competition and bigger programs,” Marsico added. “It helps you validate what you’re working for in a sense.”

Marsico began seriously considering a pro golf career when he was 14, and he chose to attend Penn as a backup plan in case he doesn’t eventually pan out as a pro. But for Marsico, beginning the progression toward pro status in earnest is still another two years away.

“It’s tough during the school year to really get that much better with my golf game,” he admitted. “You can’t put in the time that you do in the summer. For me, it’s getting through college, and once I can start practicing every day … the little improvements that you need [that] make the difference between a pro and an amateur, those will come then.”

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