Henrik Stenson ranks first in four major statistical categories in 2013. (Halleran/Getty Images)
By Bill Cooney, PGATOUR.COM
D.A. Points won the Shell Houston Open with a clutch 13-foot par putt on the 72nd hole on Sunday. Everyone will remember the story about Points using his mom's old putter. But don't forget about those wedges (we're pretty sure those aren't from mom, too). Points' scrambling was pretty tidy in Houston, especially in comparison to his stats from this season. We'll take a look at that and also this week's Valero Texas Open -- played at difficult TPC San Antonio -- by going inside the numbers.
1st Ranking next to Henrik Stenson’s name in four major statistical categories in 2013. … Stenson, who ranked 133rd in the world just eight months ago, has really turned his game around. He’s played five events in ’13 (four stroke play) and ranks first in driving accuracy (72.96 percent), greens in regulation (77.78 percent), scrambling (75 percent) and total driving. And now -- buoyed by a T2 at the Shell Houston Open, he’s headed to the Masters.
+1.989 That’s how many average strokes TPC San Antonio played over par at the 2012 Valero Texas Open. The AT&T Oaks Course was the fourth most-difficult course on the PGA TOUR last season. It was also the seventh most-difficult on TOUR in 2011 (+1.665). … There have been several renovations to the golf course in preparation for this week’s tournament -- in which Rory McIlroy is playing for the first time -- which includes alterations to the first, fourth, 10th and 12th greens.
6 This number is a reason to keep an eye on Ben Curtis at this week’s Valero Texas Open. It represents the number of defending champions from 2012 that have posted top-five finishes in 2013. Steve Stricker (2nd at Hyundai Tournament of Champions), Brandt Snedeker (T2 at Farmers Insurance), Bill Haas (T3 at Northern Trust), Hunter Mahan (WGC-Accenture Match Play), Luke Donald (T4 Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank) and Tiger Woods (Win at Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard) have carded T5s. Of course, four defending champs have missed weekend play. … Curtis, defending this week at TPC San Antonio, missed the weekend in Houston and has just a pair of T25s this season. So will it be feast or famine for him this week?
9 Number of eagles made this season by Chris Kirk, which leads the TOUR. … Yes, Kirk has an incredible nine eagles in 31 rounds. Not bad, considering Charles Howell III led the TOUR last season with 18 eagles in 98 rounds. Even more ridiculous, Kirk hasn’t even had an eagle in his past two tournaments or eight rounds. He had three eagles at the Sony Open in Hawaii and three at the Northern Trust Open. He also had a hole in one at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. It’s even more impressive when considering a player such as Lee Westwood has no eagles in 2013.
12 of 15 For you non-math majors that comes out to 80 percent, or Points’ scrambling percentage at Shell Houston, which ranked fifth in the field. … This essentially helped Points win his second career event on TOUR, as you may recall his incredible saves on the 17th and 18th holes in the final round. He got up-and-down from 43 yards out on 17 and made a 13-foot, 5-inch putt on the 18th to win. The 80 percent clip is also a dramatic improvement for Points. In 2013, Points ranks 116th in scrambling at 57.56 percent. He was T112 in 2012, at 56.50 percent.
146th Scrambling rank for Dustin Johnson in 2013, or a rate of 55 percent. … What’s the big deal, you ask? No, Johnson wouldn’t be a top pick to win a short-game contest on TOUR. But last season, he had improved dramatically from past years. He ranked 32nd in scrambling at 60.29 percent and 38th in sand saves at 53.85 percent. Not bad, considering the best he ranked in scrambling from 2008 to ’11 was 139th. Johnson has just three T25s in nine events in ’13, but poor scrambling stats haven’t affected Johnson much during his career. We’ll have to see if it affects him in '13.
169 feet, 4 inches Distance in putts made for Points in the first round of Shell Houston. … Points needed just 23 strokes on the greens during a first-round, 8-under 64. He gained nearly 5 strokes on the field average during Round 1. Points cooled off a bit on the greens, but finished the week 10th in strokes gained-putting. For 2013, Points ranks 152nd in SGP -- the reason he sought help with his putting and added his mom’s old putter to his bag.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS ARCHIVE
Week 2: Sony Open/Humana Challenge
Week 10: WGC-Cadillac/Tampa Bay Championship
Week 12: Shell Houston Open
D.A. Points has two wins and a runner-up finish in the last three years on TOUR. (Halleran/Getty Images)
By Travis Fulton, Director of Instruction, PGA TOUR Academy
As I sat and watched D.A. Points win The Shell Houston Open on Sunday, I thought to myself, "This guy has some of the best practice swings before each shot."
So many times at the TOUR Academy, we encourage players to take the things they “self-discover” from their practice sessions and transfer these ideas to the golf course. Sometimes, these things can be done in the way of a swing thought, or even an exaggeration of the concepts during practice swings.
Earlier this year, we broke down Tiger’s practice swings and their intent to help him feel a more "left swing" direction. This week, we were treated to two more very creative rehearsals by D.A. Points to help him transfer what he is working on at the practice facility to the golf course.
The first -- and I must say, a new one for me -- was D.A.’s practice putting strokes as if he had the long putter. You may have noticed Points lead hand was positioned around the sternum area with the lead elbow pointing at the target, just as if the end of the long putter was in hand. D.A.’s right hand was actually on the grip as he moved the shoulders back and through a couple times.
I am only guessing but it appears the purpose here was to help D.A. get his shoulders moving during the stroke around a steady head. With the long putter, the shoulders need work in a more “rocking” sensation around a fixed point, promoting less arc and face rotation. With the grip end anchored or “pretend to be anchored," this can help eliminate head movement and get the shoulders working. Generally speaking, the more side-to-side movement with the head, the more the hands will take over, and not the shoulders.
The second noticeable practice swing was that of his full swing. Here, Points took a couple hard practice swings keeping his trail foot down. This lack of movement in the trail foot trains D.A. to stay in his posture because it allows the pelvis to move up and back, rather than towards the golf ball. In addition, this emphasis on the trail foot can help stabilize the torso through impact, allowing the arms and hands to release properly past the chest.
One of the things D.A. guards against is his trail foot coming up to the toe quickly on the downswing. This results in loss of posture and a torso that can get out ahead of the arm swing. As a result, clubface rotation is reduced, resulting in shots missed to the right. With that said, I love the creativity of the practice swings to help maintain his feelings and thoughts even during tournament golf.
Good stuff D.A. Keep them coming!
Travis Fulton is the Director of Instruction at the TOUR Academies at TPC Sawgrass and the World Golf Village. For more information on the TOUR Academy, click here.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
D.A. Points' victory Sunday in Houston earned him more than just 500 FedExCup points. He's going to the Masters.
It will be the second trip down Magnolia Lane for Points, who last played at Augusta National in 2011. He missed the cut that year.
With the completion of the Shell Houston Open on Sunday, the field is now set for the year's first major (except for the winner of this week's Valero Texas Open, provided he's not already in the field).
Henrik Stenson also earned an invite, moving from 53rd to 42nd in the Official World Golf Rankings following his tie for second in Houston.
His best finish at Augusta National was a tie for 17th in 2007 and 2008.
Freddie Jacobson and Richard Sterne also secured spots in the field. Despite neither having played last week, both stayed in the top 50 in the OWGR at 47th and 49th, respectively.
Augusta, Ga., native Charles Howell III, however, will miss out for the fourth time in five years.
Howell needed to finish fifth or better in Houston. He tied for 10th.
Geoff Ogilvy will also be watching from home. The former U.S. Open champion missed the cut in Houston and dropped from 50th to 55th in the world.
By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM
Many experts would say that the use of his mother’s putter led to his recent victory. Others might state that it was a putting tip from Lamar University golf coach Brian White. My belief is that D.A. Points won the Shell Houston Open because of “cheesy grins.”
Points mentioned that he was flashing “cheesy grins” to his caddie, Travis Perkins, on the course and those expressions made them crack each other up. But more importantly, according to Points, those “cheesy grins” also kept him loose under the intense pressure of chasing his second PGA TOUR victory.
D.A. Points was feeling the pressure to keep his job. He had missed nearly 50 percent of the cuts (29/60) since his win at the 2011 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. This year had gotten worse with him missing seven in his last nine starts. The pressure was immense to play well down the stretch this week at the Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Texas.
The misunderstanding is that the elite players on the PGA TOUR do not get nervous. They do. They are just like you. Pressure is relative. We all feel nervous when the event is important to us. A victory would ensure that Points had a job for another year on the PGA TOUR.
One of the best ways to buffer the pressure is to have a mental game mechanism that keeps you loose when the muscles can get tight. This mechanism can come in many forms. It could be a fun self-statement like “easy-speezy”, and you say it every time you feel those butterflies forming. This mental mechanism could be an image of you sitting at your favorite beach drinking your favorite beverage. It can also be an action like making a “cheesy grin”.
Don’t hide your head in the sand when it comes to pressure on the course. The first step in beating the nerves out of your game is to realize that you will feel the heat. That is natural, from the best in the world to the worst.
Once you accept that anxiety will show up, then be prepared with a mental mechanism to keep you loose. You may want to try a grin, or a wry smile, or a beefy chuckle. Make the cheese optional.
Dr. Gregg Steinberg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf. He is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the Tour” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. Dr. Gregg is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players. You can see more about him at www.drgreggsteinberg.com, and you can e-mail him at email@example.com for any comments or questions about your mental game.
Dustin Johnson led the field in driving distance at nearly 320 yards at the Shell Houston Open.
|Shell Houston Open
||Winner: D.A. Points
|Driving Distance||284.0 (61st)||Dustin Johnson (319.4 yards)||T4|
|Driving Accuracy||64.29% (T31)||Russell Henley (82.14%)||T45
|Strokes Gained-Putting||1.140 (10th)||Billy Horschel (2.048)
|Greens in Regulation||79.17% (T10)||Cameron Tringale (83.33%)||T16|
|Proximity to Hole||37' 5" (40th)
||Greg Owen (29' 5")||T22|
|Scrambling||80.00% (5th)||Graham DeLaet (87.50%)||T31
WEEKLY PERFORMANCE STATS ARCHIVE
Week 2: Sony Open in Hawaii
Week 4: Farmers Insurance Open
Week 5: Waste Management Phoenix Open
Week 7: Northern Trust Open
Week 8: The Honda Classic
Week 9: WGC Cadillac & Puerto Rico Open
Phil Mickelson put a driver back in his bag on Sunday and hit seven of 14 fairways. (Halleran/Getty Images)
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
HUMBLE, Texas -- D.A. Points retained his touch through more than a 2-hour rain delay in winning the Shell Houston Open.
Redstone Golf Club received more than an inch of rain and it was a guessing game with how much the conditions changed. Points was immediately tested with a 43-yard chip on the 17th hole that he hit to within 2 feet and then made a 13-foot putt on the final green for the tournament-winning par.
Points reasoned the greens retained moisture following the rain so he switched from a gap wedge to a pitching wedge on the 17th hole and played a little less break on the final putt. He opened with a 64 and closed with a 66. D.A. was on point the entire week.
Putter: Points took just 23 putts in the opening round and then followed with 32 putts in each of the next two rounds. Points maintained he was still rolling the ball well, but it was just a matter of time until the putts fell. They started dropping on the second hole where he made a 6-footer but it was the 29-foot putt at the third hole that really gave him confidence. For the remainder of the round every putt had a chance to go in the cup.
Strong finish: Henrik Stenson finished strong with birdies on the last two holes. His play on the 18th hole was textbook. He drove it 279 yards and the approach from 133 yards landed within 12 feet of the cup and he made the putt. To birdie both the 17th and 18th holes was tremendous play under pressure, and he qualified for the Masters in the process.
Long ball: Dustin Johnson “over-performed” on Sunday. He made bogeys at both the 14th and 17th holes because he hit it too well. At the 14th, Johnson hit a 5- iron from 223 yards that flew the green and led to bogey. At the 17th hole, he hit a 177-yard 9-iron that covered the flag but also went too far. Johnson made two bogeys hitting what he thought were perfect shots.
Bad start: Steve Wheatcroft had so much riding on the final round and he began in miserable fashion with a double bogey at the first hole. He hit his approach into the wind and it stood straight up in the air, then dropped vertically into the bunker creating a terrible lie. Wheatcroft had no chance with the bunker shot, then sent a chip 6 feet by the cup and missed that for a 6. It was a disappointing start and Wheatcroft did not hide his emotions. As soon as he saw his lie in the bunker his body language was terrible for the remainder of the hole. He did birdie the second but never really rebounded from the bad start by shooting a 74. He went from a tie for third at the start of the final round to a 22nd-place finish.
Low one: Phil Mickelson predicted he had a “low one” in him for the final round and he was accurate. Unfortunately, it was not low enough. Mickelson birdied the first four holes to get to 10 under par but could not sustain the momentum. He ripped off eight straight pars before a birdie at the 13th but followed that with a double bogey on the 14th. He played 1 under on the remaining four holes to finish 10 under.
3-wood: Mickelson played the first three rounds of the tournament carrying a pair of 3-woods and no driver. He put driver in play on Sunday and hit seven of 14 fairways. Mickelson will experiment with a new deep face driver from Callaway before committing to what clubs he will carry at the Masters.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here
D.A. Points made a clutch 13-foot par putt on the final hole to win the Shell Houston Open on Sunday.
By PGATOUR.COM wire reports
HUMBLE, Texas -- D.A. Points came back from a long rain delay and made four pars. The last one gave him a one-shot victory in the Shell Houston Open and sent him to the Masters.
Points closed with a 6-under 66 on Sunday, saving par on the last two holes at Redstone Golf Club to outlast Masters-bound Henrik Stenson and Billy Horschel. The final round was halted for nearly three hours because of storms that soaked the golf course.
Points, who picked up 500 FedExCup points with the victory, kept alive the streak of Americans winning all 14 events on the PGA TOUR this year.
The victory gives Points a spot in the Masters, just like his only other victory did two years ago at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am with actor Bill Murray as his partner.
By Alex Turnbull, PGA TOUR staff
Shot an 8-under par 64 in the opening round of the Shell Houston Open marking his lowest opening round on TOUR since shot 63 in the opening round of the 2011 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (win).
Five straight: Points began his day with five straight birdies on his opening five holes. This was the second longest consecutive holes below par streak of his career. He played six consecutive holes below par in the third round of the 2012 BMW Championship on Crooked Stick (career best).
Points made a 54 foot, 9 inch birdie putt on the 17th hole. This was his 10th career putt made of 50 feet or more, his fifth longest of his career and the longest he's made since the final round of the 2011 AT&T National we he converted a 68 foot putt on the ninth hole of Aronimink GC. His 54-9 make was only the sixth putt made of 50 feet or more on the 17th hole at Redstone GC since 2006.
173rd to first in strokes gained-putting: Points entered the week ranked 173rd on TOUR for strokes gained-putting losing nearly one stroke per round (-.927) with his putter. However, he currently leads the field for strokes gained-putting through the morning wave in the opening round out performing the field by +4.7 strokes on the greens.
Made a 61 foot, 7 inch birdie on the 14th hole today marking the longest putt made of his PGA TOUR career. His previous long putt came on the 10th hole from 59-3 in the opening round of the 2011 Honda Classic.
Bogey-Free round: Tringale was bogey-free in his opening round today marking his third bogey-free round in 2013 and the 17th of his PGA TOUR career.
17 of 18 greens: Tringale hit a career t-best 17 of 18 greens in the opening round today. The last and only other time he hit 17 of 18 greens was in the opening round of the 2012 PGA Championship.
Angel Cabrera shot a bogey-free 66 in the opening round today. Ironically, this marked his first bogey-free round on the PGA TOUR since he was bogey-free in the opening round of the 2012 Shell Houston.