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February 11, 2018
Pebble Beach, California
JOHN BUSH: We would like to welcome our champion, Ted Potter, Jr. to the interview room here at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. I know you've had a lot of highs and lows during your career, but talk a little bit about what winning at Pebble Beach means to you.
TED POTTER, JR.: I mean, what a place. I mean it's just so beautiful here, and the guys that have won here in the past, and just it's just a truly unbelievable thing to win here at Pebble. Just so thrilled right now. And to get my second PGA TOUR win, it's even, I mean that's just so good.
JOHN BUSH: It sets you up so well for the rest of the season as well. You move up to No. 15 in the FedExCup standings. Just talk about your goals now as you head into the rest of the year.
TED POTTER, JR.: Yeah, definitely got to change a little bit. To move up that far in the FedExCup points and it gives me a good opportunity to finish high at the end of the year here. So definitely I'm pleased to be able to pick a schedule now and pick some courses that I like and work hard to finish high enough on the FedExCup to get to East Lake.
JOHN BUSH: Congratulations, once again. Let's take questions.
Q. What are you most proud of? The way you played today and how? The quality of guys behind you, playing in the last group, what? What impressed you today?
TED POTTER, JR.: I think the way I finished the tournament coming down the stretch on the back nine. I struck the ball well and hit a lot of my targets out there coming in with the pressure on me. Knowing that -- I knew I had probably a two-shot lead, but you never know what could happen out there. I just hit a lot of quality golf shots coming down the stretch knowing I had to.
Q. Do you know how many exact wins you had on mini-tours before eventually making your way to the PGA TOUR?
TED POTTER, JR.: Not exactly, because there's a lot of two-day, four-day tournaments. Four-day tournaments, I probably had 15 or so, on the mini-tours.
Q. Do you get trophies for everyone of them?
TED POTTER, JR.: I got about seven or eight from some of those tournaments. Nice crystals.
Q. How about beating No. 1 player in the world playing with him, and after a bogey on 1, to be able to just make sure everything was nice and even keeled from there. Talk about what that process was like.
TED POTTER, JR.: The first hole I hit two good shots. I hit the fairway, hit the green and did what you're supposed to do, but I just didn't realize that putt was that fast on the first putt. That kind of set the mood for me the rest of the day knowing that the greens were probably a little bit quicker than what I played on yesterday.
And making birdie on the next hole definitely got me back in the right track where I needed to be.
Q. How about duelling with Dustin Johnson?
TED POTTER, JR.: I mean, I don't know what to say there. I had a great day of golf today. Dustin wasn't, I guess on his game today. He hit some good shots, but just he had some misses out there, so I don't know.
Q. Your caddie actually put the number of wins since you turned pro at 60. Would he be a little high or a little low?
TED POTTER, JR.: Counting probably everything with two-day events and four-day events, yeah, probably close to that.
Q. Do you think all those wins build up some sort of confidence or some sort of ability to handle stress and pressure in an environment like today?
TED POTTER, JR.: Yeah, I mean definitely it helps to draw back from past experience coming down the stretch. It doesn't matter what kind of tournament really it is, it's just -- I mean I won enough times on the mini-tours and the WEB.COM TOUR, I won twice on the WEB.COM, once in a playoff there and then the Greenbrier win in a playoff. So I think I know how to control myself and the nerves and coming down the stretch, it's just you still got to execute the shot.
Q. Have you talked to your dad?
TED POTTER, JR.: I haven't had a chance to talk to any family yet.
Q. What do you think he'll say?
TED POTTER, JR.: I'm sure they will be thrilled and happy and say everything good there.
Q. Did you think you might be in for a long day when you 3-putted the first hole, and then Dustin just crushes his drive at No. 2 and he's got you by 50 yards and you're thinking, God, how am I going to equal that, how am I going to counter that, or did that not enter your mind?
TED POTTER, JR.: I'm sure everybody knew probably going into this tournament Dustin's probably going to win the golf tournament, so I knew I'm the underdog there. What do I got to lose, really. Just go out there and try to play the best golf I could today and see what happens. Why put more pressure on myself to say I'm playing against the world No. 1 or just go play golf.
Q. Was this the best golf you've ever played?
TED POTTER, JR.: I would say it was pretty good. Right up there. To come down -- I mean this is first time I had led going into the final round, tied for the lead. And then to close it off, it definitely builds a lot of confidence in my game and I look forward to weeks down the road.
Q. Russell Knox once said that you were the most talented player he's ever played with. Do you feel like some people don't realize just how good you really are and what have you showed those people this week?
TED POTTER, JR.: I have never been hard worker, I guess, at it. I mean I'm probably better than what I think I am, but I just never -- I'm not a person that likes to go hit a bunch of balls on the range or just work as hard as I probably should. When I start working on it, I see -- I'll get results like this that happen. But then I'll probably back away from it a little bit and have to regroup again and force myself to work hard at it again. The last couple years, where I broke my ankle and had to come back, I definitely had to work at it again. So just got to keep grinding. I've got to figure out how to keep that focus on trying to get better instead of just being okay where I'm at.
Q. As a heavy underdog, people probably, a lot of people probably thinking that you didn't have a chance. How did you feel about that and how do you approach it as an underdog?
TED POTTER, JR.: It's golf. All you can do is try as hard as can you do. Just keep grinding, keep trying. I don't know what to say, really. Just keep playing.
Q. You were off this TOUR for over three years with the injury and everything else. Do you feel like there's a lot of players out here that you don't know and they don't know you? And are you still kind of finding your way back to where you fit in out here?
TED POTTER, JR.: Yes and no, I guess. There's a lot of new guys out here I haven't met in the last couple years and there's some guys I've met when I was out here before and playing well. It's still an individual game. You've still got to play your own game and it doesn't matter who you're playing against that way.
Q. When you were talking about goals earlier, was your goal at the beginning of the year, could you kind of give us what some of those were and was one of them just trying to get your card?
TED POTTER, JR.: Yeah, I would say so. I was in the WEB.COM category, so I'm trying to -- I knew this week I wasn't sure if I was going to get into Riviera next week, and I knew I needed a good week this week to move up on the reshuffle list after next week's reshuffle. I believe it's next week. So going into the week I knew I needed to have a really good week to be able to play in some of the events on the East Coast. To win here, it's just very special, and to get me out of the category that you never really want to be in, but you have to be in sometimes, just happy to be where I'm at right now.
Q. Sorry to look too far ahead, but how tough is this tournament going to be to defend next year when the field should be really stacked with guys coming in to get ready for the U.S. Open?
TED POTTER, JR.: Say that again.
Q. Just looking ahead to next year, how hard is this tournament going to be to defend your title with a field that's going to include so many people coming in to get ready for the U.S. Open?
TED POTTER, JR.: I don't know. That's a year away and I definitely look forward to coming back here next year. And we had such great weather this year and I'm hoping next year's going to be similar, but you never know. It's just a beautiful place. It doesn't -- just play hard and see what happens.
Q. What was it like to be out as long as you were? And just your thought process and how -- did you worry that you wouldn't be able to get back here to this level?
TED POTTER, JR.: Yes and no. The first, probably the first round of golf I played after getting back after the injury, it wasn't really that bad, so I felt good about it. Just knew it was going to take a lot of time and a lot of therapy on the ankle to get it stretched out where it needed to be and get it where I could move it like I need to. But definitely playing the WEB.COM last year built me a lot of confidence, going from really, probably didn't have any status to having my PGA TOUR again. So that was a big step for me.
Q. As much as you can elaborate, can you give us details on the ankle, exactly where was the break, what took so long to get back? I mean it was almost two years before you came back.
TED POTTER, JR.: I broke my fibula and tibia, I had like 12 screws and two plates put in it.
Q. One surgery?
TED POTTER, JR.: One -- well, one surgery to have all that stuff put in, the hardware put in. And then a year later another surgery to have all of it removed. So once the ankle was healthy enough, I mean the doctor said I didn't need it in there and it felt like I couldn't -- it was still stiff with all the plates and stuff in there. So it was hard for me to twist or turn my ankle with it. So he said your bones are healthy enough, you don't need that stuff in there, so we had it removed, all the hardware.
Q. How long did you go without swinging, hitting a ball?
TED POTTER, JR.: Probably four or five months, I guess.
Q. On 7 behind the green, with you guys side by side, you played a little bit more loft on your chip than D.J. did. Is that the way you normally would have played it, or did you learn anything from his about how firm that green was?
TED POTTER, JR.: I seen how his landed and how his rolled out, so I knew it was a little firmer and a little faster than we both thought, I guess. So I definitely tried to get a little bit higher with some more spin, but it still landed pretty firm. I was -- I mean for it to hit the hole was definitely pleasing there.
Q. I know there hasn't been a lot of time since you won this event, but what do you envision your pre-Masters schedule looking like now?
TED POTTER, JR.: Oh, I'm not really sure yet. Definitely going to play a few events in Florida and then really don't know yet. I have to really look at the schedule.
Q. Are you going to play next week?
TED POTTER, JR.: Yes.
Q. Zach Johnson's seven years older than you and he obviously had a lot of success on the mini-tours. Did you ever take any inspiration from what he's been able to carve out for his career?
TED POTTER, JR.: Yeah, I mean I think he played the Hooters Tour back in the day, too, and had a lot of success out there. The WEB.COM TOUR, he got his card, and he's won what? Two Majors? Three Majors? Two Majors. I mean it definitely's a grinder, journeyman too. So it would be nice to have a career like his, but I don't think I will ever have that kind of career. But I'm just going to keep trying and try to win golf tournaments. See what happens.
Q. Just to follow up about your ankle, what was it like in that four or five months where you couldn't basically play golf? And did you ever actually think that maybe your career might not be something -- golf wouldn't be your career?
TED POTTER, JR.: There's always thoughts that you might not be able to play golf at a high level again, but you do your therapy and do what you're supposed to do to try to get the bones healed up and try to get the motion back into it. But yeah, at the time I had no idea if I was ever going to be here, right here right now, again. It's just funny how everything worked out. And I spent a lot of time home on the couch with my ankle up in the air there for awhile there. But just hard work, I guess, paid off to get me back here.
Q. During that time where you were playing the mini-tours so much obviously you're putting up your own money to play in those events, was there after time when you really needed to do well to pay the bills or what have you or to make it from one week to the next in those events where obviously there's only a little bit of prize money at the top.
TED POTTER, JR.: Yeah, when I first turned pro I was working at the cart barn playing Moonlight events down in Orlando, so on my days off I go down to Orlando, play some mini-tour events to try to win a couple hundred bucks or whatever. And then from there you try to play in bigger events to win more money to get into the four-day events or two-day to four-day events. So I mean there's always a time where you definitely are living paycheck to paycheck for basically a mini-tour player. So that's a lot of pressure on you when you're trying to save enough money to go to Q-School at the end of the year too on top of it.
Q. Couple questions. If you're sitting on the couch not sure if you have a future, and considering you turned pro out of high school, how on earth would you have made a living if you couldn't play golf? Did you ever think about that?
TED POTTER, JR.: Not really. Just one day at a time.
Q. You kind of maybe touched on this earlier, but if you look at your career record, there's a lot of missed cuts in there. Probably more than you made over your career. Why is that and would you like to see yourself at a level where you're getting a win sprinkled in with a lot of top-10s and a lot more consistency and what does that take?
TED POTTER, JR.: Yeah, I don't know what the reason why I have my ups and downs like that. It's not consistent enough like I would like it. The mini-tours I was consistent, I made a lot of cuts playing four-day events. I go to the WEB.COM and I don't know what changes there between my head that way, between the ears. I'd miss a lot of cuts there and have a couple good events. But the WEB.COM I played really good last year, I made a lot of cuts, only missed a few cuts really last year. Then to come out here and it's like stepping stones, I go up-and-down, up-and-down, so I mean I think eventually I'll get it where I'm making 60, 70 percent of my cuts out here instead of 20 percent. So it's just a work in progress for me.
Q. I'm curious because I heard it on the telecast, why and how would you go from a natural righty to swinging it left lefty?
TED POTTER, JR.: My dad gave me a right-handed club when I, as soon as I could walk, and I just flipped it over, tried to swing it left-handed, so he built me left-handed clubs. So that's basically how I got started playing left-handed.
Q. Other sports at all do you do the same?
TED POTTER, JR.: No, I mean, I do everything right-handed. I throw a baseball or whatever, a football, it doesn't matter. I'm naturally right-handed. It's just I happen to play golf left-handed. My dad gave me left-handed clubs because I flipped them over, so...
Q. I got to ask you, is Clint Eastwood the coolest guy you've ever met?
TED POTTER, JR.: Yeah, it was pretty awesome to meet him out there today. Big fan of a lot of his movies he's done and it was just incredible to meet him too.
Q. Which ankle did you break?
TED POTTER, JR.: My right ankle.
JOHN BUSH: Congratulations once again to our champion, Ted Potter, Jr.
TED POTTER, JR.: Thank you. Appreciate it.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports