Unheralded Potter hits pay dirt

Ted Potter Jr showing no problems with his swing on Sunday, when he outplayed some of golf's biggest names to win the Pebble Beach Pro-Am by three shots. He was worried what would happen to his swing after a freak accident in 2014.
Ted Potter Jr showing no problems with his swing on Sunday, when he outplayed some of golf's biggest names to win the Pebble Beach Pro-Am by three shots. He was worried what would happen to his swing after a freak accident in 2014.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PEBBLE BEACH (California) • In 2009, Ted Potter Jr was just another journeyman on one of golf's developmental Tours, with his biggest pay cheque US$33,000 (S$43,756).

On Sunday, the unheralded American walked away with the winner's prize of US$1.3 million and a place at the Masters after seeing off world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Major winners Phil Mickelson and Jason Day with a three-stroke victory at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am event in California.

Potter got off to a hot start en route to a closing round of three-under 69 for a 17-under 270 total, having shared the overnight lead with Johnson, and never relinquished his lead.

He bounced back after suffering a broken ankle in a freak accident in 2014 after stepping off a kerb that left him sidelined for two years, to record just his second win on the PGA Tour and first since winning the 2012 Greenbrier Classic.

"It is pleasing," the 34-year-old said of his travails, having lost his PGA Tour card following the injury and dropping down to the Web.com Tour last season in a bid to work his way back up.

"I struggled when broke I my ankle. You don't know what is going to happen with your golf swing or your career. To come back from that it is unbelievable right now."

The chasing quartet of Mickelson (67), Day (70), Johnson (72) and Chez Reavie (68) all finished tied for second on 273. American Kevin Streelman (68) finished alone in sixth on 274.

"It feels so good right now," Potter said. "I get my second career win after five years away from it."

On Sunday, he drained four birdies in his first seven holes to extend his lead. That included a birdie chip from the rough on the par-three seventh hole.

His only blemish was a three-putt bogey on the par-four first hole but after that, it was smooth sailing the rest of the way.

Johnson was hoping for a victory this week to strengthen his grip on the top ranking.

The American, who was going for his second straight win having won by eight strokes at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii last month to start the season, closed with four birdies. But he also had four bogeys on the final day.

He is hoping to retain his title next week when the Tour travels to Los Angeles for the Genesis Open at the Riviera Country Club.

"My game is in pretty good form and I have a golf course I really like playing next week," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2018, with the headline 'Unheralded Potter hits pay dirt'. Print Edition | Subscribe