Potter is Magic at Pebble as Aphibarnrat Triumphs Down Under
Ted Potter Jr. produced a marvellous round of golf to see off world number one Dustin Johnson and secure his second PGA Tour victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Few would have expected this result at the start of play on Sunday. Tied at the summit on 14-under, Johnson boasts a prodigious record on the iconic Californian layout, including two previous triumphs in this event back in 2009 and 2010. However, the former U.S. Open champion failed to any notable spark during the final round, despite his distinct length advantage, while Potter looked composed and accomplished throughout – even stoic – as he strode towards a dream success.
“It's definitely pleasing, it was a struggle there, when you break your ankle and you don't know what's going to happen with your golf swing,” said Potter who shot 69 to win by three from a resurgent Phil Mickelson, Chez Reavie, Jason Day, and Johnson. “To come back from that, I mean, it's just unbelievable right now.”
That significant injury from 2014 essentially robbed Floridian of two years on tour, which undercut any progress that could have been made after his win at the Greenbrier Classic in 2012. But now with this latest milestone achieved, the 34-year-old can now anticipate a return to the Masters at Augusta National, in addition to The Players and PGA Championships to come. He has also risen from 246th in the World Ranking to 73rd, the highest position of his career to date.
Congratulations to our 2018 champion, Ted Potter Jr.! ???????? pic.twitter.com/MFOJc4B3kh— ATTPebbleBeachProAm (@attproam) February 11, 2018
“Just back from my mini-tour days, tournaments I've won in the past, just drawing back from past experience of winning golf tournaments,” he reflected afterwards.
“It's just so good right now, to get my second career win after five years away from it. Going back to the Masters, it'll definitely be another dream come true.”
For Dustin Johnson – who won the Tournament of Champions last month in Hawaii – it was a disappointing finish, but positives were evident as he builds towards the important sequence of events ahead. Likewise, for Phil Mickelson, who at 47 remains one of golf’s most popular entertainers, while Phoenix Open champion Chez Reavie continued his tremendous form. The same can be said for Jason Day, winner of the Farmers Insurance Open, who is reminding everyone that he is still a force within the game, as he looks to replicate the highs of 2015 and 2016.
Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat defeated home favourite James Nitties 2 and 1 in the final of the uniquely formatted ISPS Handa Super 6 Perth in Australia. It was the 28-year-old’s fourth European Tour victory, the first since the 2015 Paul Lawrie Match Play, and a welcome reminder of the mercurial talent that has seen him become a regular fixture within the world’s top 50 for several years.
Lake Karrinyup was the grand stage for this event, which saw three rounds of strokeplay – with the field to reduced to 65 after day two and ultimately 24 following day three. The remaining players competed in six-hole matches, leading to a faster paced and dramatic element to the tournament. Aphibarnrat beat Ben Eccles, Yusaku Miyazato, and American Sean Crocker to reach to the last four, where he overcame Lucas Herbert in an extra “shootout” hole to separate the two and make the final.
“It's just been an awesome week,” the Thai said. “I don't know how to explain but I'm so happy.
“I'm working so hard. The last few months I've been getting really close and finally I've done it.
“It means a lot. When you focus on something, you try this hard, then I kept finishing second and then I'm not giving up. I'm trying so hard until I get it.
“It's really tough to get in the last 24. It's been tough every single match that I play in.
“James is playing so good but he's just unlucky at the end.”
Defending champion Brett Rumford and Lee Westwood were among those who failed to progress from the strokeplay rounds, but it was Aphibarnrat who survived the format and triumphed Down Under.
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