Golf: Unharried, unheralded Ted Potter beats big names for surprise Pebble Beach win

Ted Potter Jr. poses with the trophy after winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at Pebble Beach Golf Links, on Feb 11, 2018.
Ted Potter Jr. poses with the trophy after winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at Pebble Beach Golf Links, on Feb 11, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

PEBBLE BEACH, CALIFORNIA (REUTERS) - Ted Potter Jr kept his cool as he outplayed some of golf's biggest names to win the Pebble Beach Pro-Am by three shots in California on Sunday (Feb 11).

Few gave Potter, ranked 246th in the world, a chance as he started the final round tied for the lead with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, and a bogey at the first seemed to suggest the stocky left-hander was destined to fall short.

But he stormed back with four birdies in the next six holes, punctuated by a 20-foot chip-in at the par-three seventh, to jump clear and was never overtaken thereafter as he posted a three-under 69 in fine conditions at Pebble Beach.

By parring the final 11 holes, he forced his closest pursuers to make something happen.

"I knew on the back nine I had a two-shot lead (and)... if I played smart golf... those guys would have to catch me coming in," an emotional Potter said in a greenside interview.

He finished at 17-under 270 for his second PGA Tour win, after his previous success in 2012.

Overnight co-leader Johnson made four bogeys in his even-par 72 to blow his chances for an 18th PGA Tour title and ended tied for second with fellow Americans Phil Mickelson (67) and Chez Reavie (68) and Australian Jason Day (70) on 14-under.

The victory was a remarkable comeback by Potter, who incurred a fractured right ankle in a "freak accident" in 2014 when he slipped on a path.

"I had the first surgery in 2014 and then I had another surgery in 2015 to have all the screws and plates removed," he said.

"You don't know what's going to happen with your golf swing or your career. To come back from that it's just unbelievable right now.

"It still gets sore at the end of the day, but I can swing the golf club and can I get around 18 holes, so I feel good about that."