During the early parts of this week's South Georgia Classic, as I was criticizing the invitation of John Smoltz to the field, a lot of people brought up a decent point. They said, "At least with Smoltz, you are talking about the Nationwide Tour. Would you be talking about him otherwise?"
My answer is simple; I would if a guy Monday qualified for the event, earning his spot into the event, and eventually going on to win the darn thing after weekend rounds of 65-68 to finish at 16-under for the week, a new tournament record.
That title, and incredible accomplishment, belonged to Ted Potter, Jr., a mini tour legend that has won the Hooters Tour Player of the Year twice and a handful of other tournaments from just about any tour you've ever heard of. He is the 20th person to ever Monday qualify on the Nationwide Tour and go on to win it, and he did so by three shots over Matthew Goggin.
How strange has the road been for Potter? The now 27-year-old turned professional after high school, at age 19, and qualified for the Nationwide Tour two years after that. That year, Potter missed every cut he tried, 24 in all, and didn't find himself back on the Nationwide until 2007. He has been on and off it from that point forward, with his highest finish before Sunday being a tie for 11th, but after his Monday qualifying round of 66, he was in his 56th Nationwide event of his career, and it ended with a win.
It's a great story, and one that makes golf so incredibly unique. No talented baseball player can individually play his way into Yankees Stadium, or stud basketball star one week find himself playing center for the Heat, but Potter had a hot qualifying round, turned that into a good week, and rode it to a victory. Good stuff, Ted.