Potter wins Greenbrier
By John Raby
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Rookie Ted Potter Jr. made a 4-foot birdie putt on the third hole of a playoff with Troy Kelly on Sunday to win the Greenbrier Classic for his first PGA Tour victory.
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.
Potter became the sixth first-time winner on the tour this season. He earned $1,098,000 and jumped from 173rd to 51st in the FedEx Cup standings.
The 28-year-old left-hander had missed five straight cuts entering the Greenbrier Classic and his previous best finish was a tie for 13th.
It marked the third straight year of close finishes on the Old White TPC Course. Scott Stallings beat Bob Estes and Bill Haas on the first hole of a playoff last year, and Stuart Appleby shot a 59 to beat Jeff Overton by a stroke in 2010.
Charlie Wi and rookie Charlie Beljan tied for third at 14 under. Wi shot a 65, and Beljan had a 67.
Webb Simpson lost a one-stroke lead on the back nine at the tournament for the second straight year. The U.S. Open champion made three straight bogeys, shot 73 and tied for seventh at 11 under.
During the fourth round, Potter made long putts for a birdie at No. 15 and an eagle at No. 17, and his 5-footer for birdie at No. 18 tied Kelly, who could have avoided the playoff but missed birdie putts on the final two holes.
Both made par on the first two playoff holes, with Potter missing a 5-footer at No. 17 that would have won it, Moments before, Kelly made a 22-footer for par after finding trouble from the greenside bunker.
Playing the par-3 18th for the third time on the day, Kelly’s tee shot was short of a steep ridge in the middle of the green, while Potter sent his 9-iron onto the top of the ridge and it trickled close to the pin.
Kelly missed his 45-foot birdie putt, then watched Potter close out the win as thunderstorms moved in.
Despite the disappointment, Kelly earned his best career finish. He previous one was a tie for 37th.
Daniel Summerhays finished fifth at 13 under after a 64. Martin Flores (67) was another stroke back.
Simpson, the third-round leader, had gone 50 consecutive holes without a bogey but made three of them in a row starting at the par-5 12th.
Joining him at 11 under were Robert Castro (63), Kevin Na (65), Sean O’Hair (66) and Ken Duke (70). Duke was within a shot of the lead on the 14th hole before fading with a pair of double bogeys.
Simpson can now focus on family — his wife, Dowd, is due to give birth to the couple’s second child within three weeks. That means skipping the British Open, which starts July 19 at Royal Lytham and St. Annes.