WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS - Ted Potter Jr. struck another blow for PGA Tour rookies Sunday, roaring through the final four holes and surviving a three-hole playoff to steal the Greenbrier Classic trophy.
Potter became the second rookie in a row to win the three-year-old tournament, following Scott Stallings. He wins $1.098 million, a two-year exemption and a trip to the upcoming British Open. He also qualifies for the 2013 Masters.
He did it in dramatic fashion, going from 12 under to 16 under in those four holes. Troy Kelly had seized the lead from Webb Simpson and had made it to 16 under by his 14th hole.
Two groups ahead, Potter went for the gusto and it paid off. The left-hander started his rally with a 49-foot downhill birdie putt on the 15th, a 204-yard par-3.
After parring the 16th, he reached the green in two on the 616-yard 17th, then hit the eagle putt from 27 feet. On the 18th, he had only 4 feet, 10 inches to get his birdie and finish with his second 64 in a row.
"I only got a glimpse at the [leader] board one time," said the 28-year-old native of Ocala, Fla. "I think 15 or 16 [under] was leading. I was back at, like, 12 at the time. When I saw that, I was [thinking] they're probably going to get to 17 under at least, so I'm thinking I was probably out of the tournament.
"So at that time, I knew I had to make some birdies coming in, but at the same time I didn't want to play too aggressive where I'm making bogeys. I mean, a third-place finish or fourth-place finish will mean a lot to my year now."
When Kelly missed an 11-footer for birdie on the 17th and parred the 18th, the playoff was set. Kelly, who dropped off the tour after 2009 and qualified again through the then-Nationwide Tour in 2011, followed his third-round 62 with a 66.
The playoff rotation was 18-17-18. Both parred the 18th and then the 17th, but there was much more drama in the latter.
Kelly put his second shot in a green-side bunker, but barely got it out. He said he had trouble with his stance, particularly with putting his left leg at an odd angle.
"I just hit it fat. I've done that before," he said. "When I've been in that position before, I've hit it fat, unfortunately, and today I did it again."
He didn't chip out of the rough much better, and had 221/2 feet for a par. Potter had 8 feet for birdie.