Rookie Ted Potter Jr drained a four-foot birdie at the third hole of a sudden death playoff on Sunday to edge Troy Kelly for a first USPGA tour win at the Greenbrier Classic.
Potter, ranked 218th in the world, finished eagle-birdie as he erased a four-shot deficit in regulation, carding a final-round 64 to join Kelly on 16-under 264.
He became the sixth first-time winner on the tour this season. He earned a winner’s prize of US$1,098,000 and jumped from 173rd to 51st in the FedEx Cup playoff standings.
It was quite a turnaround for the 28-year-old left-hander, who had missed five straight cuts coming into the tournaments.
“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 said the two-year tour exemption that goes with the win “was just a big relief ... knowing that now I’ve got a couple years to try to improve on my game and win some more tournaments.”
Kelly, who started the day two shots behind overnight leader Webb Simpson, had five birdies in his four-under 66 on the Old White TPC course.
Simpson, who claimed a first major title with his US Open triumph at The Olympic Club in San Francisco last month, surrendered a one-shot lead on the back nine of the final round here for the second straight year.
Four bogeys in five holes from the 12th spelled the end of his challenge and he closed with a 73 that left him tied for seventh.
“I kind of made a couple bad swings and judged the wind wrong a bunch of times it seemed like,” Simpson said of his back nine. “It was just one of those unfortunate nine holes where all week everything had been going right and in nine holes everything couldn’t have gone worse.”
South Korea’s Charlie Wi and rookie Charlie Beljan shared third place on 14-under 266. Wi posted a 65 and Beljan a 67.
Potter became the second rookie to win on the US tour this season.
He had a chance to win at the second extra hole — the 17th that he had eagled in regulation.
After coming up short of the green, Potter chipped on to about five feet, but missed the birdie putt as Kelly saved par from a greenside bunker.
Returning to the par-three 18th, Potter landed his tee shot four feet from the pin and made the putt for the victory.
Kelly still notched his best career finish, improving on a prior tie for 37th.