Potter cruises to 3-shot victory at Pebble Beach

Ted Potter Jr. shot a 3-under 69 to cruise to an three-shot victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Sunday.

Potter finished at 17-under 270 to earn his second career PGA Tour victory and his first since the 2012 Greenbrier Classic. After suffering a broken ankle in 2014 that resulted in two surgeries, Potter worked his way back onto the Tour through the Web.com Tour in 2017.

With Sunday’s victory, Potter earns a two-year PGA Tour exemption and entries into the 2018 Masters, PLAYERS Championship and PGA Championship. He earned more FedExCup points Sunday than he had in the past three years combined.

“It’s definitely pleasing,” an emotional Potter told CBS Sports moments after tapping in for par on the final hole. “It was a struggle there. When you break your ankle, you don’t know what’s going to happen with your golf swing or career.

“To come back from that, it’s just unbelievable right now.”

Potter shared the lead with Dustin Johnson entering Sunday, which was the first time in Potter’s career that he had held or shared the 54-hole lead. He promptly bogeyed the first hole to fall a shot behind Johnson.

Potter rebounded with four birdies over his next six holes, including a chip-in from behind the seventh green that gave him a two-shot cushion. He then reeled off 11 consecutive pars to close out the victory.

“Back from mini tour days and other tournaments that I’ve won in the past, just drawing from past experiences of winning golf tournaments,” Potter said when asked how he managed to hold off some of the best players in the world trying to chase him down Sunday. “If I played smart golf, I knew I was putting well. So, I mean hitting a lot of center of greens and giving myself a chance at birdies, those guys would have to catch me coming in.”

Phil Mickelson closed with a 5-under 67 on Sunday to claim a share of second place at 14-under.

“This has been a really fun week,” Mickelson said. “I gave it a shot there on the back nine. It was a good, solid round, but it wasn’t enough because Ted’s been playing so well. But it was nice to feel the nerves and to make a couple of birdies down the stretch.”

Johnson, Jason Day (70), who salvaged par on the 72nd hole from the beach, and Chez Reavie were also in the group at 14-under. Reavie earned his second consecutive runner-up finish after losing to Gary Woodland in a playoff at the Waste Management Phoenix Open last week.

“My ball striking has been steady now for a few years, it was just trying to figure out how to get the results,” Reavie told CBS after a final-round 68. “Putting is very important in that, but just picking your spots and playing aggressive at the right times.

“I hit the ball well, not quite as well as last week, but I made more putts this week. Whenever you’re making putts, it’s a lot of fun.”

Johnson moved to third in the FedExCup standings, although he was disappointed with shooting 70-72 over the weekend after opening with a 69-65 on Thursday and Friday.

“I shot 2-under here over 36 holes, which is not too good,” Johnson said. “Especially as well as I felt I’m playing. All in all, still a good week … I would have liked to have put a little more pressure on Ted.”

Kevin Streelman and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald dominated the pro-am portion of the tournament, winning by seven shots with a 41-under total.

NOTES: Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, Johnson’s father-in-law and partner in the pro-am, withdrew on Sunday citing back pain. … Defending champion Jordan Spieth shot a 1-under 71 on Sunday to finish in a tie for 20th at 8-under. … Jon Rahm shot a 4-over 76 on Sunday to drop into a tie for 26th at 7-under. It was Rahm’s third consecutive over-par final round after entering Sunday in contention. He shot a 1-over 72 while playing in the final group at the Phoenix Open, and a 5-over 77 in the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open two weeks ago. … Troy Merritt triple-bogeyed the final hole when his third shot got lost in a tree, but still managed a tie for eighth place to earn a spot in next week’s Genesis Open at Riviera.

–By Derek Harper, Field Level Media

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