Bairstow, 23, convincingly came through an all-English semi-final against John Gough by 5&4 to seal his place in the 36-hole showdown, while teenager Potgieter, 17, edged out Irishman Alex Maguire 3&1.
As well as winning one of the most prestigious titles in the amateur game, the victor tomorrow can look forward to competing in The 150th Open at St Andrews next month, the 2023 US Open and, by tradition, an invitation to play in the Masters Tournament.
Sheffield native Bairstow impressively won six holes in a row from the 4th, thanks to three birdies and errors from his opponent, to put the left-hander in full control. Beaconsfield’s Gough had only lost one of his previous 24 match play ties and won the Lytham Trophy over the Lancashire links in May, but his superb run came to a halt as the Hallowes member triumphed.
Open chance again
Bairstow came through Final Qualifying at St Annes Old Links to reach The 149th Open at Royal St George’s last year and is now just one match away from a quick return trip to golf’s oldest championship.
“I played pretty solid and I don't think John had his best game which is unfortunate because it would have been a great match if we both did,” he said.
“I'm the highest ranked Great Britain and Ireland player this week (19th on WAGR®) but I’m pretty calm. Obviously certain situations like the first tee or whatever, coming down the last, you feel a bit nervous but I find if you put on a brave face it's a lot easier to manage them.
“I don't think I'll try to think about The Open until tomorrow. I can't think about that because otherwise I'm just not going to concentrate on my game. I’ve just got to keep on doing what I'm doing.”
In windier afternoon conditions in front of large crowds, Potgieter eased to a three-up lead after eight holes against Maguire. But the Laytown & Bettystown player, winner of the East of Ireland Amateur last week, rallied after bogeys from the South African at the 9th and 11th.
Potgieter, who has won three times in his homeland this year at junior level, stayed strong to close it out on the 17th.
There have only been two previous winners of The Amateur Championship from South Africa – Jovan Rebula at Royal Aberdeen in 2018 and Bobby Cole at Carnoustie in 1966 – as Potgieter seeks to join an exclusive group.
“It’s my first time in the UK,” admitted Potgieter, world-ranked 140th. “I think I've got the wind factor nailed down. It took a few rounds to get know how to hit the shots around the greens but it’s coming along nicely now.