Pros advice

Journeyman Potter weaves his magic at Pebble Beach

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Ted Potter Jr once missed all 24 cuts in a season on the Tour. At Pebble Beach he held off three major winners for his second win on the PGA Tour.

What happened at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am?

While Dustin Johnson was busy conquering the world in 2017 Ted Potter Jr spent much of his year on the Tour. Then the 34-year-old finished in the top 25 to get back on the main Tour and now he’s a winner for the second time after going toe-to-toe with the World No 1 at Pebble Beach.

In 2004 Potter tried his luck on the Nationwide (now Tour and missed every single cut of his 24 starts. Eight years later the left-hander won the Greenbrier Classic, a win that came out of nowhere and which was followed by more of the same ordinary play, and two years later he broke his ankle slipping at his hotel at the Canadian Open which required two surgeries.

The next two seasons were a write-off, he still says he’s not 100 per cent. This was just his fourth top 10 on the PGA Tour.

On Saturday he came to the last three holes at Monterey Peninsula on 11 under for the day and needing just one more birdie to shoot a magical 59. He finished bogey-bogey for a 62.

And then opened with another and everyone was quick to dismiss him alongside Johnson. But he then birdied four of the next six holes, including a chip-in at 7, while Johnson went the other way.

Phil Mickelson made a late run with three birdies late on but Potter was giving nothing away – he got up and down 6/6 and played like a seasoned winner. In the end he parred his last 10 holes for a 68 and a brilliant three-shot win.

Last week’s runner-up Chez Reavie closed with a 68 to share second with the stellar trio of Mickelson, Johnson and Jason Day.

Talking point

Rory McIlroy admitted that he had got a little spooked by the greens after missing the cut on his first visit to the Pro-Am. He took 90 putts over his three rounds which included these five unfortunate hits at the 5th at Monterey Peninsula having narrowly missed out on an eagle.

Playing alongside his dad Gerry he came up two shots shy but, having started the year so well in the Desert Swing (T3-2), he wasn’t ready to hit the panic button.

“Honestly, I’m fine, because my ball-striking was really good for the three days,” he said. “I just left too many shots out there. I have to learn to trust my lines, especially on these Poa Annua greens. I have a little bit of work to do in that regard but I’m really looking forward to Riviera. I love that course and I expect some better results.

“I hit the ball well. I hit the ball well at Spyglass, and I scored well. I missed two greens on Friday, only missed one fairway, and I shot three over. So that wasn’t too good on the greens. “Today (Sunday) I hit some really good shots and, yeah, I just need a few putts to fall. So I let the greens (on Friday) get into my head a little bit and it was hard to get out of that mind-set.”

McIlroy did sign off in style though after driving into the rocks at Pebble Beach’s iconic 18th. And he holed the putt.

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