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Dublin: 9°C Tuesday 13 April 2021
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In the swing: Ted Potter Jr emerges from obscurity

The little-known golfer raised eyebrows last Sunday when he claimed his maiden PGA win, writes Neil Cullen.

Potter triumphed at the Greenbrier Classic on Sunday.
Potter triumphed at the Greenbrier Classic on Sunday.

I’M NOT GOING to lie to you folks, before this weekend I had never heard of Ted Potter Junior.

That may be a shameful admission for someone who writes on golf, but I hope you appreciate my honesty. The fact of the matter is, I’d be very surprised if many Irish people had heard of him either.

No longer do we have to live in ignorance of the existence and talent of Ted Potter Jnr, however. He will now occupy a corner of our brains that’s reserved for the the Greenbrier Classic version 2012.

The tournament may have the name ‘Classic’ in its title, but unfortunately there wasn’t a great deal to merit such a billing. If anything, the tournament was more newsworthy for those who didn’t event make it to the weekend, rather than those who did, with both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson falling victim to the half-way cut.

For Mickelson, it is a sign that time may be running out for him to get his game where it needs to be for the British Open in 10 days time. His late request for an invitation to the Scottish Open, one that has been granted, is as sure a sign as anything that he needs another tournament under his belt to try and hone his swing before the third Major of the year.

Woods’ performance is a little more difficult to interpret. Tiger rarely misses a cut, so to do so off the back of a win is a little puzzling. It does dispel one pattern that had been emerging this year, however, that was a bizarre quirk of his 2009 season. That is: in 2009 Woods won the four tournaments he played before each of the four Majors, but didn’t carry that through to win any of those Majors.

This year he won his last tournament before both the Masters and the US Open, but he will be going into the British Open winless. Can we read anything into that? Probably not, but it does suggesthe will be going into the British Open with a slightly different mindset to the one he carried into a lot of recent Majors.

One Major winner who did stand out at the Greenbrier was Webb Simpson, the latest Major winner of them all. A final-round 73 was his undoing, but the fact that he managed to play well so soon after his Major win is a positive sign. Compare that to Bubba Watson, who has done very little of note since winning the Masters.

On the European side, the Alstom Open de France was won by Marcel Siem. The German has had to wait eight years to pick up his second win on Tour, but he had been showing some form of late, so those that have been following his play will not have been surprised to see him bag a win.

It was a nice field for him to beat as well, with the likes of Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, Francesco Molinari and Lee Westwood all in the mix at various stages of the competition.

Weather conditions were a challenge at Le Golf National club outside Paris, but given the weather the UK and Ireland have been experiencing over the last weekend, I’m almost taking it for granted at this stage that the British Open is going to experience weather that is mixed at best.

In some ways the weather is an integral part of links golf. It adds to the challenge and the traditionalists will argue that part of the intrigue and intricacy of the Open is having to manage the conditions as well as the course.

Naturally, the conditions are an imponderable at this point, but players better be prepared for the worst, and at this point, the last chance for that will be the Scottish Open this week.

The Scottish Open offers great preparing for the Major test that follows and will give us a great insight into what we can expect at Royal Lytham St. Annes for the third Major of the year.

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