PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — For one day at Pebble Beach, Ted Potter Jr. was better than the best in the world.
Look back even further, and his three-shot victory in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is even more remarkable.
He played so many mini-tour events that he lost track of how many he won, some of them only two-day tournaments that paid enough for a week’s worth of food and gas. His biggest paycheck was $33,000. More recently, Potter was out of golf for two years recovering from a broken ankle that required two surgeries — one to insert 12 screws and two plates, another to remove all that hardware. There was no guarantee he would make it back.
Potter started the final round Sunday tied with Dustin Johnson, the No. 1 player in the world for the last year. Throughout the day, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day each made a run at the 34-year-old Floridian who had 46 missed cuts and only four top 10s in his previous 83 starts on the PGA Tour.
Potter beat them all.
He was the one chatting with Clint Eastwood and posing with the crystal trophy that comes with a $1,332,000 check and a return to the Masters.
“I’m so happy right now to get it done today, especially against the world No. 1, playing with him today,” Potter said. “The win here at Pebble is just unbelievable.”
Just don’t call it a fluke.
Potter closed with a 3-under 69 and didn’t drop a shot after a three-putt bogey on the opening hole. Making it tougher was playing in a threesome behind a foursome in the pro-am format, having too much time to think about the stage, the contenders and the opportunity.
He never flinched.
The key moment came behind the green on the par-3 seventh, the most picturesque at Pebble Beach. He and Johnson were side-by-side in light rough to a firm green that ran away from them. Johnson chipped nicely to 4 feet. Potter put a little more loft on his shot and holed it for a birdie and a two-shot lead.
No one got closer the rest of the way.
He wound up winning by three shots over Johnson (72), Mickelson (67), Day (70) and Chez Reavie (68).