US PGA TOUR rookie Ted Potter Jr. graduated from Struggle Street today taking the 2012 Greenbrier Classic on the third playoff hole against fellow “unknown” golfer Troy Kelly.
Apart from taking home a cheque about US$1,080,000 larger than his previous best, the 28-year-old will also get a two year full exemption on the tour – and a trip to the British Open next week and the US Masters next year.
Heady stuff for a guy who followed up his tour debut 13th at the first event of the year at the Sony Open with five straight missed cuts.
“When you’re missing cuts every week, you get down on yourself,” Potter said. “I mean, it’s hard to pick yourself back up. But the plus side for me is I was still young. I just knew I had plenty of time and just be patient and it will come back around again.”
Potter joined the Web.com Tour (formerly the Nationwide Tour) in 2004 and didn’t have much success until last year when he finished second in the money list and earned his promotion.
Ranked 218th in the world going into the final day at the Old White TPC golf course in West Virginia, Potter overcame a four-stroke deficit with four holes to play, finishing eagle-birdie for his second straight 6-under 64 to match Kelly at 16 under. Kelly closed with a 66.
Potter sunk a four foot birdie putt on the third playoff hole to take the tournament.
“It was just a big relief,” he said. “All the struggles the last few weeks, knowing that now I’ve got a couple years to try to improve on my game and win some more tournaments.”
Kelly underwent hip-replacement surgery in September 2010 after being diagnosed with arthritis. He resumed playing golf five months later and was 11th in Web.com Tour winnings last year.
“I had a lot of fun,” said Kelly after coming within a whisker of his first tour win. “And looking forward to kind of getting in that position some more.”
US Open winner Webb Simpson looked the one to beat coming down the stretch but three straight bogeys on the back helped him to a 73 tied for seventh at 11-under.
Tournament big names Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson failed to make the cut while the best placed Aussies were Rod Pampling (67) and Gavin Coles (68) tied for 27th on 7-under.2012 Greenbrier Classic Final Leaderboard