At stake on Sunday is a shot at his third victory at Pebble Beach that would strengthen his grip on No. 1 in the world. Missing will be his sidekick, Wayne Gretzky, puffing on his cigar and keeping it light.
But he stormed back with four birdies in the next six holes to jump clear and was never overtaken thereafter en route to an authoritative three-under-par 69 in fine conditions at Pebble Beach. The wind was a little bit tricky and I just got on the wrong side of the holes. Professional golf is special because, in theory, Potter can win every tournament he plays in (and sometimes does).
Of course it would be impossible to talk about Potter's victory without mentioning his 62 on the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club during Saturday's third round.
He bogeyed the last two holes, which at least was enough to tie for the lead.
They were at 14-under 201, and with more wind in the forecast - compared with virtually none earlier in the week - this could have plenty of possibilities.
Johnson is going for his second straight PGA Tour victory having won by eight shots at Kapalua to start the year.
Potter was unflappable playing alongside Johnson, who next week completes one full year at No. 1 in the world.
If nobody steps up and stops him Sunday at Pebble Beach, that will be the question leading into the Genesis Open at Riviera next week.
Three events into his PGA Tour season and it's fair to say it's been a mixed bag for Shane Lowry with the bad so far outweighing the good in 2018. "But all in all, the game's pretty sharp".
"I would say that I'm driving it well, but I'm probably not quite as good as I was when on those three wins, but everything else feels like it's really good".
Jon Rahm birdied his last three holes at Spyglass Hill and worked his way back into contention with a 70. He was in a group at 11 under that included 50-year-old Steve Stricker (70) and Patrick Rodgers (69). "Last week in Phoenix I missed the cut and came up here kind of searching".
With five birdies and five bogeys, McIlroy's even par 72 at Pebble Beach left him one-under for the tournament and outside the cutline by two strokes.
Rory McIlroy (MC): It was a disappointing week for McIlroy, especially after he sniffed the lead following a 4-under 68 in Round 1. No matter. He still managed a 72 and missed the cut by two shots. Potter hit 12 of 14 fairways, rarely missed greens by more than a few yards, made every putt he needed to and parred his way in from the 8th hole to the end of the day.
That stretched his lead to three shots at the time. That changed when he tapped in for par on the 18th hole, and he choked back emotion of a week he won't soon forget.
Potter holed a chip from behind the green for birdie on the par-3 seventh hole to build a two-shot lead over Dustin Johnson, and no one got any closer the rest of the way.
The win was the second of Potter Jr.'s career and first since the 2012 Greenbrier Championship. He missed all of 2015 with a severe ankle injury from stepping off a curb, and he worked his way back to the big leagues previous year. Jason Day had a small shot late, but with a driver off the deck at the par-5 18th, he hooked it into rocks.
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