Masters 2013: Getting to know Ted Potter Jr.

Ted Potter Jr.

Ted Potter Jr.

To get you ready for the 2013 Masters, we are breaking down the amateurs and first-timers that will play at Augusta National starting on Thursday, April 11.

• • •

Ted Potter, Jr.

Age: 29

Hometown: Ocala, Fla.

How he qualified: Won, 2012 Greenbrier Classic

It was another trip to Georgia almost two years ago that changed the trajectory of Ted Potter’s career. He’ll celebrate the culmination of that success at this year’s Masters.

Potter, one of the most successful players in Hooters Tour history, didn’t have any status on a major tour when he Monday qualified for the Web.com Tour’s South Georgia Classic in April 2011. He won that week and eventually finished second on the money list to earn his first PGA Tour card. He won last year’s Greenbrier Classic as a Tour rookie, making a 4-foot birdie putt on the third playoff hole to beat Troy Kelly and earn his Masters invitation. Potter was 218th in the world when he won at Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. He eagled the par-5 17th in the last round, then made a 5-foot birdie putt at the par-3 18th to tie Kelly.

Potter drove by Augusta National’s gates while competing on the Hooters Tour and has attended the tournament.

“I’m definitely looking forward to seeing it again, and actually going up (Magnolia Lane),” he said.

Augusta National’s aristocratic atmosphere is a perfect contrast to Potter, a homemade golfer from the rural Florida town of Silver Springs. He was working in a cart barn when he earned his first Nationwide Tour card, just 18 months after his high school graduation. He’d never flown in a plane before that season. He missed all 24 cuts as a rookie in 2004, setting the tour’s record for most starts without a made cut.

Potter developed a fast-paced, self-taught swing. He’d play with his father Ted Sr. after the elder Potter’s shift as a golf-course maintenance worker. Ted Sr. could break par, and mom Dale, a Walmart worker, could break 80. The younger Potter’s torrid downswing is marked by an aggressive leg drive and pronounced head dip. He became known as an aggressive player, especially on the greens, where he had no problem with running birdie putts some 4 or 5 feet past the hole. It was a style of play perfectly suited for the go-low-or-go-home mini-tours, but one that needed to be adjusted for golf’s higher levels.

Potter made just six of his first 55 cuts on the then-Nationwide (now Web.com) Tour. He bounced between that circuit and the Hooters Tour, dominating the latter in a fashion reminiscent of past Masters champion Zach Johnson. Potter was the tour’s player of the year in 2006 and 2009.

He also held Nationwide Tour cards in 2007 and 2010, but wasn’t able to retain them either year. That’s why he had to Monday qualify in early 2011.

“I try to just keep that in the past,” he said. “I don’t want to bring up bad memories. I just focus on the positive.” He can add a trip to Augusta National to those pleasant experiences.

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