Murray's comic relief helps spur Points to lead at Pebble BeachFebruary 10, 2011
Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM Chief of Correspondents
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- D.A. Points estimates that he's seen "Caddyshack" more than 5,000 times. In fact, he's prone to quote lines from the classic movie more than once during a normal round of golf.
Not Thursday, though. Not when Points was playing with the alter ego of the legendary greenskeeper Carl Spackler himself, comedian Bill Murray, during the first round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
"I don't want him to go, oh great," Points explained. "So I purposely am trying not to use any 'Caddyshack' lines."
Besides, Points was too busy making birdies that propeled him to the top of the leaderboard at 7 under. He shot a 63 at Monterey Peninsula Country Club to tie with Steve Marino, whose 7-under 65 came at Spyglass Hill.
When Points came to the media center to discuss his round, though, all he wanted to do was talk about Murray. He had wanted to play with the actor for years, even dropping hints to Murray's long-time partner, Scott Simpson, and was thrilled on Tuesday when he found out his dream was realized.
"The only other person, like if I got to play with Mr. Palmer or Mr. Nicklaus or Mr. Watson, ... maybe that I could compare," Points said. "That might be a little more exciting. (But) this is a big deal for me."
The two met Tuesday night at a PGA TOUR Wives function hosted by TOMS Shoes. Murray was among the players and celebrities decorating a pair of slip-on shoes to be auctioned off for charity. The two spoke briefly, and Murray headed home. The next day, though, Points' phone rang.
"He says, D.A., this is Bill Murray," Points recalled. "I'm like, oh, my gosh. I didn't even give him my number. He goes, 'I got your number from the police department,' obviously joking. He said, 'I'm playing this afternoon after the Celebrity Shootout at Cypress Point; would you like to play?'"
Points still has the message on his cell phone. He was out playing a practice round at Spyglass Hill when Murray called. Several hours later he joined the comic and two of his female friends for what essentially was a twilight round at the exclusive club.
Not everyone has the temperment to play with Murray, who is known for his on-course antics -- and once infamously dragged a woman from the gallery into a bunker and swung her around. In fact, some of Points' friends felt a little sorry for him when they heard about the pairing, saying he got the "short end of the stick."
"I was like, really? There are a lot of amazing celebrities here, and I'm not going to try to compare him to one over the other," Points said. "But in my eyes, he's one of biggest and most amazing celebrities here with the career he's had and how much he loves golf. ...
"So when somebody says I got the short end of the stick, I just don't feel that."
Besides, Points thinks he prospers under Murray's lighthearted approach to the game and plans to "go with the flow" this week. The two are paired with with Duffy Waldorf and former San Francisco 49ers tackle Harris Barton in the first three rounds.
"To be honest, I think it really ... loosens me up and makes me, between shots, not be grinding so hard on what I'm doing,' Points said. "It helps me take a little bit of a breather between shots and joke around with him, and Harris told some really nice stories about playing football against Reggie White and different guys.
"Stuff like that really helps me. Then I can kind of escape. For five hours and forty minutes while I'm out there, if I'm trying to think about golf, golf, golf nonstop, I'm going to be exhausted by the time the day is over with. I think that really helped."
Asked for his favorite Murray moment on Thursday, Points talked about several bunker shots the comic hit to 4 feet, genuinely impressed. And how he taught Murray to give "knuckles" wirelessly rather than bumping fists.
When pressed, though, Points recalled Murray going over and plopping down on the lap of a lady in the gallery. He joined several fans who were over on a hill having a picnic, too.
"He went over and sat with them and had wine and cheese with them -- or maybe it was beer," Points said. "When he came back, Harris was like, hey, you go over there and you get all that stuff, where's mine? And Bill shared his drink with him."
Turns out, Points' lone bogey came when he three-putted the 14th hole, which Murray happened to birdie. The comedian was talking some smack "about how he just made a putt and how Harris just made a putt and how easy this should be," Points recalled. He backed off the putt but refused to blame the gaffe on anyone but himself.
"I think he felt bad," Points said. "... It didn't bother me at all or make my nervous anything, I just hit two bad putts."
All jokes aside, though, the Illinois grad, who tied for fifth two weeks ago at the Farmers Insurance Open, is trying to win his first PGA TOUR event. Not to mention, Murray has never won the pro-am portion of the event and the two are currently one back after opening with a 59.
Toward that end, Points acknowledged that he could sense a bit of a change in Murray as the day went on and he got further under par. He thinks Murray's caddy, who played golf at Points' alma mater, Illinois, may have toned things down a little.
"I think he was like, All right, pro is playing good; you're playing good; let's get halfway serious about it," Points said with a smile.
Still, the comic relief worked wonders on Thursday. So don't look for too many changes as the two head to Spyglass Hill for the second round.
"It certainly doesn't hurt to have a little bit more lightheartedness going on," Points said. "It is our job and it is a business but sometimes I think maybe the public would get more excited about it if we looked like we were having more fun.
"I think that's why people like Rocco Mediate and some of the other guys. When he's out there, Rocco looks like he's having fun and that makes people go, maybe playing golf is a lot of fun. I think we need just maybe a smidge more."