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Potter breaks through, wins The Greenbrier Classic
On the commercials that feature the PGA Tour’s catchphrase is “These Guys Are Good,” the guys they show are all the familiar faces that typically populate the leaderboards. But on a week when most of those players were either absent or underperforming, some other guys got a chance to shine.
The result: yet another first-time winner as Ted Potter Jr. birdied the third playoff hole to defeat Troy Kelly and win the 2012 Greenbrier Classic in White Sulphur Springs, W.V. Ranked 218th in the world, Potter overcame a four-stroke deficit with five holes to play, finishing with his second straight 6-under 64 to match Kelly at 16-under. Kelly closed with a 66.
“I made a few putts on the front nine, and just tried to stay close and make some more on the back nine,” said Potter. “I just tried to plug along and make birdies.”
A Tour rookie, Potter’s best previous finish had been a T-13 at the Sony Open early in the season. Kelly, in his second season on the PGA TOUR, had a chance on the par-5 17th to take a one-shot lead, but missed his 10-foot birdie attempt. He made par from just inside four feet on the par-3 18th to earn his spot in the playoff.
Both Potter and Kelly had finished in regulation at 16-under par 264.
A native of Ocala, Fla., the left-handed Potter was a teen golf phenom, blowing away the competition on the youth circuit. But like many young stars, he quickly found himself surrounded by local heroes trying to earn their bones on the bigger stages. After earning his way onto the PGA Tour by finishing second on the money list on the Nationwide Tour, Potter had struggled to find his footing, missing the last five cuts prior to the Greenbrier.
In a tournament that story lacked starpower with the Europeans absent and both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson missing the cut, the path was clear for new blood to make its presence felt. U.S. Open Champion Webb Simpson started the day as the prohibitive favorite with a two-shot lead on the field. But he carded four back-nine bogeys while stumbling to a final round 73 and a T-7 finish. World No. 5-ranked Simpson and No. 50 Kevin Na were the only players in the top 50 among the tournament’s top-10 finishers.
This was the third straight close finished on the Old White TPC Course. Scott Stallings beat Bob Estes and Bill Haas on the first hole of a playoff last year for his maiden PGA Tour victory, and Stuart Appleby shot a 59 to beat Jeff Overton by a stroke in 2010.