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Saturday at the AT&T: Potter Reels in Johnson with Smoking 62

With an eagle and three birdies in his first seven holes at Pebble Beach, Dustin Johnson was cruising to a four-shot lead at 16-under during the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Then Ted Potter, Jr., came from nowhere.

Potter flirted with a 59 at Monterey Peninsula Country Cub before “settling” for a 9-under 62 to leapfrog to 14-under for the tournament. Johnson battled tricky winds and fought through three bogeys on the back nine, ultimately tying Potter after a closing birdie on No. 18.

The two have a two-shot lead over Troy Merritt and Jason Day, with names like Jon Rahm three back and Phil Mickelson trailing by five.

“I’m in a good position, but I’m still going to have to go out and play really well if I want a chance to win,” said Johnson, who is chasing his third AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am title.

Johnson is a remarkable 11-under on the 12 par-5s he’s played this week.

“That’s the part of my game that I do very well — take advantage of par-5s,” Johnson said. “I’ve got to use my length, especially out here at Pebble.”

You can catch final-round coverage starting at 11 a.m. PST on The Golf Channel, and noon on CBS. All play concludes at Pebble Beach.

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Here’s what we’re thinking about after an exciting Saturday:

1. WE ALMOST HAD A 59 AT MPCC. BY TED POTTER, JR.

Really! Potter began the third round at 5-under for the tournament, but went 7-under his first seven holes to jump-start the round of his life. Potter birdied four of the first six holes on his second nine to reach an incredible 11-under through 15 at the par-71 course.

“Once I got to 11-under, I thought that I could get to 60 or…but the last three holes I knew were going to be par holes basically,” said Potter about reaching 17-Mile Drive, where the wind was picking up.

Needing one birdie to shoot 59, the lefty finished with back-to-back bogeys and had to “settle” for a career-low 62, which vaulted him 22 spots up the leaderboard into a tie for first with Johnson. The course record at MPCC is an 11-under 60, which was shot by Sung Kang in 2016. Kang was also in hot pursuit of 59, but made par on his final hole.

“I played well today,” said Potter, who won the 2012 Greenbrier Classic. “As long as I can just keep the nerves under control, I’ll be fine.”

2. THESE GUYS STILL HAVE A CHANCE.

Jason Day climbed into a tie for third place at 12-under after a six-birdie 69 and sits just two back. But he’s trailing the No. 1 player in the world.

“To catch D.J., I’ve got to play well,” Day said.

Troy Merritt followed Potter’s lead at MPCC, rocketing out to a 6-under through 12 start to climb to 16-under for the tournament. But Merritt bogeyed four of his next five holes in strong winds to finish tied with Day at 12-under.

“I played real solid,” said Merritt, who won the 2015 Quicken Loans National. “Can’t really put a whole lot into the last few holes. Just trying to get it in and not make any big numbers.”

Don’t sleep on world No. 2 Jon Rahm, who is just three strokes back in a tie for fifth with Steve Stricker and Patrick Rodgers after shooting a 2-under 70 at Spyglass Hill.

Second round co-leader Beau Hossler struggled to a 3-over 74 at MPCC to drop five shots back and into a tie with Phil Mickelson, who never could get going with a one-birdie, one-bogey 72 at Pebble Beach. Asked what he would need to shoot to capture his record-tying fifth AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am title, Mickelson said,

“The conditions are quite a bit tougher than they’ve been in the past, so it won’t have to be quite as low,” Mickelson said. “Anything in the mid 60s will have a fair shot.”

Defending champion Jordan Spieth shot a 2-under 70 to climb into a tie for 17th place, but remains seven strokes back. Spieth also survived this skulled bunker shot from Ray Romano:

3. RORY ALMOST MADE THE GREATEST EAGLE ON NO. 18 AT PEBBLE BEACH.

After starting with a promising 4-under 68 at Spyglass Hill, Rory McIlroy had a tough next two days, shooting a 3-over 74 that included a five-putt at MPCC, before closing with a five-bogey 72 at Pebble Beach.

McIlroy hooked his final drive on No. 18 at Pebble Beach into the rocks, but after dropping, he nearly dropped his third shot for an all-time eagle. McIlroy sank the putt to get to 1-under for the tournament, but the cut finished at 3-under.

Notables to miss the cut include Patrick Reed (-2), Gary Woodland (-1), Adam Scott (+2) and Graeme McDowell (+10).

4. NICK FALDO MADE AN ACE ON JIM NANTZ’S REPLICA OF NO. 7 AT PEBBLE BEACH.

The shot will literally be etched in stone. Nantz has a stone with the names of everyone who has made a hole-in-one in his backyard. Nantz calls it “the Pebble Beach pebble.”

5. YOU CAN TRY A LOT OF FAMOUS SHOTS WHEN YOU PLAY PEBBLE. BUT PROBABLY NOT THIS ONE.

Enjoy Fox commentator Bret Baier playing his third shot from a hospitality suite. He impressively saved par. What a fun story to tell at the 19th hole.


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