Five months ago, Loritz (Scooter) Clark was standing on the University of Maryland golf course practicing his putting. He noticed black clouds in the distance but there seemed to be plenty of time to complete his two-hour workout before the rains came.

Then a bolt of lightning flashed across the golf course and he was knocked unconscious. A fellow golfer adminstered CPR and an ambulance took Clark first to Leland Memorial Hospital, then later to Washington Hospital Center. He lapsed into a coma and for three weeks remained in critical condition.

"My heart stopped beating twice, my lungs collapsed and I wasn't sure I was going to live," he remembered recently. "Believe me, I feel very, very lucky."

Last week, Clark, 17, went back to the same course and played some of his best golf ever as he became the first black to win the Maryland state high school championship. He shot 76-80 for the two days and made a six-foot putt to defeat Magruder's Shane Patterson in a sudden-death playoff for the title.

"Scooter really worked for this," said Lucious Clark, who played golf for more than 30 years and is his son's coach and adviser. "I think being struck by the lightning turned him around, gave him a second chance."

The son agreed, although he said he remembers little about the incident.

"I didn't feel a thing," he said. "I was wearing two gold chains around my neck and they were fused together when I went to the hospital. About a week after I got out of the hospital, I went back to the golf course and I felt a little cloudy about things, but I shot 79 {par is 71}. I was so glad to be out there and, at times, I felt destined to play golf."

Clark, who is 5 feet 9 and weighs 152 pounds, said that after the incident, his golf game "improved somewhat. I had been inconsistent at times but I concentrated more and started hitting the ball better."

The father said his son's love of the game goes back to early childhood.

"When Scooter was 4, we couldn't get him out of bed on weekdays for day care," Lucious Clark said. "But on Saturdays, he was up at 4 a.m. waking me to go play golf. He loved the sport and was playing in tournaments by age 10. At age 15, he was a registered scratch golfer with a 3 handicap. He was always around par wherever he played."

But last year, Lucious Clark said his son developed other interests and his golf suffered.

"He was playing terrible, not putting in the effort and time necessary to be a good golfer," Lucious Clark said. "He was wasting his talent. But after that accident, he came to me and said, 'I think I'll get my priorities back in order.' He got serious again and went after that state title."

Although young Clark is elated at being the first black to win the state championship, he has become used to being one of a relative handful of black golfers.

"I was the first black to win in many age-group tournaments in the south," he said. "I felt the pressure to win but not totally from a black-white standpoint. I just wanted to show folks I could play."

Paint Branch High School's golf coach, Dave Simon, said Clark is one of the most consistent players he's seen in his nine years as coach.

"He is such a great person and really works at improving himself," Simon said. "He has the good long game, good short game and each week {since the accident} has gotten better.

"Don't misunderstand me, his game is way above the level of anything I could teach him. I haven't helped him at all; his father has done everything for him. He taught him the game and exposed him to tournament play all over the country."

Young Clark said he wants to play professionally, but expects to attend college on a golf scholarship. He has been offered four scholarships so far.

He also is interested in the teaching and business management aspect of the sport. "I may or may not be good enough to be a pro because I do have a few bad habits that I always seem to go back to," he said. "But I'm know what to do and I think I would make a good teacher."

He played recently at Langston, the District of Columbia's only course that caters mostly to blacks. "Scooter told me he would love to teach the game to young blacks and manage such a course like that," the elder Clark said.

During the state championships, one of the female golfers, Tara Hipp of Gaithersburg, was having trouble with a phase of her game. She asked Clark for some tips and he worked with her briefly. Hipp came in second, eight strokes behind Churchill's Kim Cayce.

The elder Clark said he would love to see his son enter teaching and management field.

"There are not too many blacks in that phase of golf and we both agree teaching and management would be his strong points," he said. "We keep a book on what Scooter does hole by hole. We chart fairways and work on course managment. I know he dreams of being a pro, but we know what it takes to accomplish that goal. Right now, we're looking at schools where he could learn the business aspect of sports so, if he decided to enter that field, he would be prepared. Scooter feels he got a second chance and is going to make the best of it."

Spingarn Boy Wins

For the first 1 1/2 miles yesterday, Spingarn's Kevin McKinley and H.D. Woodson's Gideon Tinch were neck and neck on the 3.1-mile course during the Interhigh Cross Country Championships at Fort DuPont Park.

McKinley pulled away from Tinch at the halfway point and won individual honors in the time of 17 minutes 45 seconds. Tinch was second in 17:48.

Woodson had five runners in the top 20, and easily won the team title with 32 points. Dunbar was second with 94 and Ballou was third with 97.

"He must have let me go, because I pulled away from him on the back hill," said McKinley, who is the league's MVP for the cross country season.

Ballou had only five runners in the girls division and all of them placed in the top 20 to give the Knights the team title with 35 points. H.D. Woodson was second with 53 and Wilson third with 62. -- Anthony Powell

Lee Girls Win Title

Terri Esterowitz and Renee Bousselaine of Lee defeated Shannon Cubitt and Wendy Perna of Midlothian, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, yesterday to win the Virginia AAA state girls tennis doubles championship at Douglass Freeman in Richmond.

In the team semifinals, defending champion Langley beat Midlothian, 5-1, while E.C. Glass of Lynchburg beat Kempsville of Virginia Beach, 9-0. Langley and Glass will meet today at 9 a.m. at Freeman for the title.