Sunday’s golf: Potter holds off stars at Pebble Beach
Pebble Beach, Calif. — Ted Potter Jr. outplayed the world’s No. 1 player and held off everyone else Sunday to win the Pebble Beach National for his first victory since a broken ankle nearly ended his career.
Potter holed a chip from behind the green for birdie on the par-3 seventh hole to build a two-shot lead over Dustin Johnson, and no one got any closer the rest of the way. He finished with 11 straight pars for a 3-under 69 and a three-shot victory over Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Jason Day and Chez Reavie.
Potter was unflappable playing alongside Johnson, who next week completes one full year at No. 1 in the world. That changed when he tapped in for par on the 18th hole, and he choked back emotion of a week he won’t soon forget.
He stepped off a curb in Canada in August 2014 and broke his ankle, keeping him out of golf for two years and then back to the minor leagues a year ago. Potter’s only other victory was at The Greenbrier Classic in 2012. He has missed the cut in 55 percent of his PGA Tour events in his career.
And then he didn’t flinch next to Johnson, with Mickelson making a late charge and Day never too far behind.
“It’s been a struggle,” he said. “You break your ankle and you don’t know what’s going to happen with your swing, with your career. It’s unbelievable right now. … This has been a blast this week.”
Potter, who came into the week at No. 246 in the world, earns a trip back to the Masters for the first time in five years. He finished at 17-under 270 and earned $1,332,000, nearly half of his career earnings going into the week.
It was another disappointment for Johnson going into the final round. He now has won five out of 12 times when he took at least a share of the 54-hole lead into the final round. Johnson led briefly when Potter three-putted for bogey on the opening hole.
That didn’t last long, and the tone of the final round was set along the ocean holes on the front nine.
“A few iron shots cost me a few bogeys,” said Johnson, who played Pebble in 70-72 . “Two under in 36 holes is not too good as well as I thought I was playing. I’d like to have put a little more pressure on Ted.”
Mickelson began his move late with three birdies in a four-hole stretch ended at the par-3 17th. Needing an eagle to have any chance, his approach to the 18th was a few yards short and found a bunker. He failed to get up and down.
Mark Calcavecchia took advantage of Bernhard Langer’s messy finish to complete a wire-to-wire victory in the Boca Raton (Fla.) Championship.