The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest Sports

April 11, 2013

Potter captures Par 3 Contest at The Masters

Greenbrier Classic champ sinks 15-foot birdie to win playoff

Augusta, Ga. — AUGUSTA, Ga. — Greenbrier Classic winner Ted Potter Jr. doesn’t have experience on his side. He’s playing in The Masters for the first time — walking the pristine fairways and learning the greens and fairways by virtue of his win in White Sulphur Springs in July.

The Ocala, Fla., native — who won the Par 3 Contest Wednesday, sinking a 15-foot birdie put  on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff to beat Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar — doesn’t have history in his favor, either.

In the Par 3 Contest, which began in 1960, no Par 3 winner has ever followed that victory with a win in the big tournament that same week. Potter, who was part of a five-way tie at the end of regulation at 4-under-par, put that curse on himself when he lifted the Crystal Pedestal Bowl for the cameras.

“I don’t care about the curse saying you can’t win both,” said Potter. “Just winning something here makes my week already.

“You watch some guys come in and slap it around. They don’t really want to win it or whatever. But to me, I did. I’m very happy the way it came out.”

But Potter — who shares his last name with a famous fictional magician — does have a few tricks up his sleeve. Since his father, a golf course maintenance professional in Florida, taught him to play the game at 2 years old, Potter has been playing left-handed.

Lining up from the opposite side of the ball doesn’t take strokes off of Potter’s scorecard, but at the very least it’s a good luck charm for the 29-year-old, who had won twice on the Tour before claiming The Greenbrier Classic in a playoff victory over Troy Kelly on the third playoff hole last summer.

Of the last 10 Masters winners, half of them — Bubba Watson (2012), Phil Mickelson (2010, 2006, 2004) and Mike Weir (2003) — have been labeled as “lefties.”

“I didn’t know the odds were that good, but I definitely feel good about playing here this week,” said Potter. “It’s a dream come true.”

Although Potter laughed off the idea of a lefty advantage, and the question of whether he felt any pressure to live up to that standard, the success of the southpaws may not be purely coincidence.

“It depends on how you shape the ball, whether you’re right-handed or left-handed,” said Potter. “You’ve got some holes coming down the stretch where a left-to-right shot is definitely needed in your bag.”

With those three champion lefties again participating in this year’s Masters, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Potter bending their ears in front of the oak tree that shades the Augusta National Golf Club clubhouse or during a practice round.

But the reserved Greenbrier Classic champion — who has made the cut in four out of eight PGA Tour events in 2013, including a 10th-place finish at the Northern Trust Open — said he’s picked up most of his knowledge on his own.

“I really don’t know those guys all that well,” said Potter. “I played a lot by myself and I enjoyed it out there.

“I just try and learn the course that way, and then the local caddies here, ask them certain questions about different slopes and where most of the breaks like to feed to, to the creek or wherever it is. So it’s just been fun getting around it and seeing the course a few times.”

That may not be a bad approach. Knowledge from the local caddies, dressed in their all-white jump suits, has helped many Masters champions navigate their way through an Augusta weekend. In fact, until 1982, players had to use club caddies. Now they are given the choice to bring their own, and most do.

But from time to time you’ll still see a player taking advantage of the local knowledge that comes from the brains of the men who walk the course every day. They’re still a valuable resource.

Potter pointed to the green at the 505-yard par-4 11th as an example. While many of the putts look straight, he learned from the caddies that most of them actually break toward Ray’s Creek, which runs behind the green.

Part of that experience is learning to handle the pressure of the competitive rounds. That will be something that Potter will feel for the first time today when he tees off at 8:33 a.m. in a group with David Toms and Richard Sterne.

But Potter promises he won’t let the results define his first trip to The Masters.

“I definitely love it, and it’s been a real treat so far,” he said. “Whatever happens, I’m going to have a lot of fun.”

 — E-mail: and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

Text Only
Latest Sports
  • Steelers to retire Hall of Famer Greene's No. 75

    The Pittsburgh Steelers are retiring Hall of Fame defensive end Joe Greene's number No. 75.

    July 30, 2014

  • Steelers' Bell looking for more decisive, productive season

    Le'Veon Bell kept watching the tape over and over, equal parts pleased and puzzled by what he saw.

    July 30, 2014

  • Charges dropped against WVU RB Smallwood

    Prosecutors said all charges against 20-year-old Wendell Smallwood, who had been charged with witness tampering in the case, have been dropped.

    July 30, 2014

  • cato Word is out on Marshall's Cato

    Rakeem Cato is easily the face of Marshall football. He also has been mentioned as a darkhorse candidate for the Heisman Trophy. That status is legitimate.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • bush Bush making Saints look good

    For his first four seasons, Rafael Bush was simply looking to land on a roster — any roster.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Practice, not temps, heats up for Saints
    The temperatures may have only been in the low 70s Tuesday afternoon at the Saints new practice facility at The Greenbrier, but now a third of the way into the 15 practices, it’s clear that the heat has turned up with playing time and positions on the line.

    July 30, 2014

  • Bowles has a support system
    Colin Bowles, the 14-year-old little brother of Corey, is coming into his own as a successful athlete. The younger Bowles competed last week at the U.S. Junior Amateur in The Woodlands, Texas, making the cut before bowing out in match play. Right there beside Colin, as he has been his entire life, was older brother Corey,

    July 30, 2014

  • Terre Haute hands Miners 2-1 loss in 11 innings

    Ryan Sabo singled home Clayton Smithson in the bottom of the 11th inning to lift the Rex to the win and put the West Virginia Miners’ postseason hopes in serious jeopardy

    July 30, 2014

  • WVU’s Smallwood waives preliminary hearing

    West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood, arrested on a felony charge of witness intimidation in a first-degree murder case, waived his preliminary hearing Monday, his case now being moved to Superior Court, where more serious crimes are argued, according to The News Journal.

    July 29, 2014

  • Steelers LB Spence caps lengthy comeback

    The whistle blew and Sean Spence sprinted forward, each cathartic step distancing the linebacker from the horrific knee injury that threatened to end his NFL career before it even really began.

    July 29, 2014

Saints Training Camp