Potter Fends off DJ and Mickelson for Pebble Beach Glory

Ted Potter, Jr. tees off on the eighth during the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournamentBeing surrounded by big names on a Sunday at one of the most famous courses in the game would rattle many players, but Ted Potter Jr produced nerveless golf to claim a brilliant win at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Potter’s 62 in the third round catapulted him up the leaderboard into a share of the lead, and a final 18 holes alongside world number one Dustin Johnson.

The 34-year-old Potter’s average driving distance of 295 yards is not to be sniffed at, but it pales into insignificance when compared to Johnson’s 305 yards. If the pressure of seeing your playing partner smash it miles beyond you on every hole was not enough, there was the sight of the likes of Jason Day and Phil Mickelson a couple of notches down the leaderboard.

It was a potent mix of pressure for a man who had only one other professional win to his name, the Greenbrier Classic of 2012. But if there were nerves, Potter did not show them – and he had a nice slice of luck along the way.

Arguably the pivotal moment in the round came on the seventh, as both Potter and Johnson missed the green in a near-identical spot.

Johnson played first, and his chip came out a shade hot and rolled six feet past the hole. Potter is clearly a man who did his homework at school, as he learned plenty from his playing partner’s effort and duly found the back of the cup for an unlikely birdie.

A two-shot lead quickly became three when Johnson made a bogey on the following hole. It took the wind from the sails of the world number one as he failed to mount a charge on the back nine as Potter went on to seal the win at Pebble Beach by three shots from a group containing Johnson, Mickelson, Day and Chez Reavie.

While the win is of huge significance to Potter, as it guarantees his playing rights for the next couple of years and allows him to play without any fear, the sight of Mickelson contending again is huge for American golf.

In what is a Ryder Cup year, Lefty has made no secret of his desire to force his way onto the team. Aside from getting a Captain’s pick, the only way for Mickelson to do that is by upping his game.

A fifth-placed finish at the Phoenix Open last week raised hope of a revival, and to back it up seven days later with a tied-second is of huge significance. Mickelson was good off the tee this week, and when he is playing from the fairway with an iron in hand he will be a threat on any course.

There’s a long way to go in the race for Ryder Cup spots, with the final event being the PGA Championship on August 12th, but Mickelson is trending in the right direction and a win in the coming weeks would not be a surprise.