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.
By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
HUMBLE, Texas -- Mom's putter is back in the bag.
A little shinier, a little heavier and more balanced. A refurbished version of the old 1980s Ping Anser D.A. Points took out of his mother’s golf bag when he was, oh, 11 or 12.
It was just what Points needed to turn a streak of so-so putting into an opening 8-under-par 64 and the early first-round lead at the Shell Houston Open.
Points won some Illinois State Amateurs with it back in the day and used it when he turned pro. Won once with it.
Fast forward to the present when he asked the folks at Ping to spiff it up.
“They took it in and they kind of refurbished it and they put some tungsten weights in the toe and heel to give it some weight,’’ Points said. “It's just a really good-looking putter, and I brought it with me this week because I just had been putting so bad, I thought maybe I'll pull this old putter out of the garage and maybe it will have some magic in it. Sure enough, today it did.’’
More than enough magic to shoot 6-under on the front, add a couple more on the back and take a one-shot lead over Cameron Tringale.
And, no, Mom hasn’t asked for it back. Not yet, anyway.
“She might now,’’ Points said. “I've had it for a long time. I think she's been praying so badly for me to make some putts, she's probably happy for me to have it.’’
Ecstatic might be a better term.
It’s been a rocky start to the season. Points has made just two cuts in his first nine tournaments and he needed something to get him jump started. So, he went retro.
“It's funny, I was talking to my caddy about it today, like I have two gold-plated ones at home because in 2004, I was using that putter and I won twice on the Web.com Tour en route to finishing second on that money list, and it was probably my best year putting of my life,’’ Points said. “I think I finished in the Top-5 in putting on the Web.com.
“Maybe I'm an idiot for not having used this putter the whole time.”
After Tuesday’s Tavistock Cup finish, Points grabbed Mom’s putter and a few others and brought them along on the trip. He was tinkering with all of them, then Brian White, the golf coach at Lamar University saw the putter in Points’ hand and said that’s it. That’s the one.’’
Points started feeling good on the greens during Wednesday’s pro-am. He got the speed -- even in the wind -- and got the lines. And ... it carried over.
It also made up for a few blips in his swing. He has one patented bad move -- when he gets in a bad spot, he fades the ball and this Redstone Course calls for draws.
“A couple of those shots I kind of have to be real careful on, because you try to cut it and if you hit it straight, it goes in the water on 18, on 5, on 6.,’’ he said. “There's a couple tee shots that it would be better if you could turn it.’’
He made just two bad swings all day -- the tee shot on 18 and the tee shot on 5. “I just bailed out so much (on the fifth) that it went into the hazard,’’ he said. "I made a real good 5 and, shoot, that hole is super hard anyway. You can hit it in the middle of the fairway and have a tough time making pars.’’
To preview the 2013 PGA TOUR season, PGATOUR.COM is counting down the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2013. For an archive page with the top 100 players and for an explanation on how the list was compiled, click here .
2013 PREVIEW: If D.A. Points can get off to another good start on the West Coast, where he's had a pair of top-10s in each of the last two years, the new year could be a good one for the affable Illinois grad.
2012 DEFINING MOMENT: Points continued to make progress last year, finishing in the top 25 in more than half of the events where he made the cut. He gave himself a golden opportunity for his second win in as many years, as he lost in a playoff at the Wells Fargo Championship. –- Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: It’s hard to find a nicer person on TOUR than Darren Andrew Points. D.A. is always obliging with an interview and some insight. I thought he was going to win Wells Fargo but lost in a playoff. D.A. told me, he needs to work on his attitude during a round and smile a little more. -- Fred Albers, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio
BOLTON’S FANTASY OUTLOOK: Missed 10 of 15 cuts in his last 15 starts. Exerted the bulk of his damage before Memorial Day, but was stricken with a back injury which may or may not have played a role in his second-half fade. He'll play 2013 as a 36-year-old, which is to say that he's medium-risk, low-reward investment. Avoid in salary games. -- Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy expert
SOCIAL MEDIA: Find him on Twitter
2012 QUICK REVIEW
Regular Season ranking
Final Playoffs ranking
|Best finishes||2nd||Wells Fargo Championship|
|By the Numbers
Cuts made: 15
Rounds played: 88
Top-10 finishes: 3
Money List rank: 56th
Driving distance: 152nd
Driving accuracy: 45th
Greens in regulation: 55th
Strokes gained-putting: 130th
Scoring average: 104th
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
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By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
NORTON, Mass. -- He's never had an albatross. So D.A. Points was watching anxiously as the 2-iron hybrid he launched from the right side of the fairway went tracking toward the pin at the par-5 18th hole at TPC Boston on Saturday.
Unfortunately, the ball stopped 20 inches shy of the hole. But the tap-in eagle moved Points to 9 under and into a tie for fifth with Seung-yul Noh, Jason Dufner, Chris Kirk and his playing partner, Charl Schwartzel.
"It would have been really cool to make that double eagle, but I'll definitely settle for a foot-and-a-half eagle putt," the affable Points said with a smile.
Points, who starts Sunday's third round three shots off the lead, came into the Deutsche Bank Championship with work to do if he wants to advance in the FedExCup Playoffs. He was 72nd at the start of the week and only the top 70 players when the tournament is over on Labor Day advance to next week's BMW Championship.
When Saturday's round was over, Points was projected to move to No. 38. But he knows only too well that he can't afford to let up after missing the cut in seven of his last 10 starts, including last week at The Barclays.
"It's nice to pick it up and play well these first two days," Points said. "But really, the FedExCup is major for us. It's a big opportunity not only to make some great money but to finish in that top 30, gets you in all the majors and opens up a lot of doors. That's really what it's about for me, getting back to Augusta and getting locked into all those majors so I can focus my attention on trying to win a major."
Given his slump since losing in that playoff at the Wells Fargo Championship -- his third and final top-10 of the season -- back in May, Points was "very satisfied" by his performance so far at TPC Boston.
"I've definitely hit it good this week, and I've putted fine, just haven't made a ton, and hopefully I'm saving it for these last two days, and go crazy," he said. "... Golf is a game of ebbs and flows like everything, and I've been on a downward ebb for a while, a downward flow. So I just had to be patient and keep grinding away and trying to find something that will spark some great play, and so far it's going all right."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
NORTON, Mass. -- D.A. Points has played 10 tournaments and missed seven cuts since he lost in a playoff at the Wells Fargo Championship back in May.
That's why the 68 he shot Friday at the Deutsche Bank Championship was so satisfying. Points is in contention at 3 under and projected to make a positive move in the FedExCup Playoffs where only the top 70 move on to next week's BMW Championship.
"I'm happy because I haven't played worth a darn in a while,"
Points said. "But I left some out there. My opening nine,
which I started on the back nine, I hit it really good and had some
really good opportunities and shot 3 under, but it was really a
5- or 6-under nine with making some putts.
"And then the second nine I struggled a little bit but hung in there. You know, it's a fine start."
Points said he hadn't looked at the FedExCup projections and consequently didn't have any idea where he needed to finish to advance.
"I know if I play well, it'll take care of itself," Points said. "My first and foremost goal is to just get it under par each day and hopefully make the cut and then go from there. But if I keep playing like I did today, I will be fine."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- After having to wait nearly 3 hours to discover his fate, first alternate Brian Harman finally teed off in THE PLAYERS Championship as a single at 12:05 p.m. ET Thursday, 5 minutes ahead of the first scheduled tee time in the afternoon wave at TPC Sawgrass.
In a bizarre twist of events, D. A. Points withdrew with a back injury just as his name was announced on the first tee for his 8:39 a.m. ET tee time. That news, however, didn’t reach officials or Harman until it was too late with the other two members of the group, Carl Pettersson and Robert Garrigus, having already teed off and moved on to the next hole.
“In my 31 years on the golf tour, I can never remember a player withdrawing right before he's supposed to play,” PGA TOUR Vice President of Rules and Competition Mark Russell said. “It happened very quickly. We didn't have time to react. Once we were able to sit down and get our heads around this, figure out exactly what the situation is, we decided that Brian Harman had done everything that we had asked him to do.”
When Harman arrived at the golf course 7 a.m. Thursday, he alerted officials he was on site and gave them his phone number. When the news of Points’ WD reached Harman, he was in the caddie area playing ping-pong with his caddie John Davenport.
“By the time the information got from the tee box to [officials], it’s already over,” Harman said “There was nothing they could do about it.”
Thankfully there was.
Rules officials convened and even reached out to USGA managing director of rules and competition Jeff Hall to figure out a solution. They decided the best decision was to “re-assign” Harman a tee time (UPDATE: Harman will take Paul Casey’s 8:50 a.m. tee time on Friday after Casey withdrew Thursday).
“Brian did nothing wrong,” Russell said. “Usually the alternates check in with us, which Brian did. He contacted us this morning, said I'm here, you guys got my phone number, I'm going to be here. It was just such a quick sequence of events, we didn't have time to act on it.”
Mostly because of Points’ last-second decision to pull out of the tournament.
Points had already left the property and wasn’t immediately available for comment, but Russell said Points was well within his rights.
“I don't want to throw D.A. under the bus; It might have been a situation where he thought, well, this has happened before, I played a couple of holes and it felt better,” Russell said. “I know he wants to play in THE PLAYERS Championship, but he got up there, and they announced the first player and he played and they announced D.A. and he says, ‘I can't play.’ And then the starter went ahead and announced the third player.”
With Harman now in the field, Greg Owen, who was on his way up from Orlando, moved up to first alternate.
This marks the third time Harman has made it into the field as an alternate this year. The other two times came at the Transitions Championship and The Honda Classic, where he nearly shot 59 in the second round before settling for a 61 on his way to a tie for 12th.
Harman seemed to handle it all in stride Thursday. “I guess I need to play better,” he joked.
The defending AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am answers your questions, including ones about Bill Murray, the Illinois basketball team and why he thanks the fans at every event.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- D.A. Points is the defending champion at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, though he’s not exactly headlining things around here.
“There are pictures of Bill [Murray] everywhere,” Points said. “I’m driving down the highway, I see a billboard, there’s Bill. There is Tiger. I’m like, ‘Where am I?’”
Murray of course teamed with Points to win the celebrity competition here last year, while Tiger Woods is making his PGA TOUR season debut this week.
“It’s a little disheartening because it’s my first win out here and I’ve been around a while,” Points continued. “But the celebrities obviously make this even a larger-than-life event sometimes.
“I’m a little bummed out that I didn’t get a picture somewhere, but at the same time Bill also won, and he’s been coming here a long time and is a well-deserving champion.”
Despite getting his first career victory here a year ago, Points’ expectations haven’t changed much -- “[They’re] probably too high,” he said. “Of course I want to win.”
Coincidentally, Points is playing about as well as he was a year ago coming into this event. Last year, Points finished fifth at Torrey Pines and tied for 18th in Phoenix. This year, he tied for sixth in Honolulu and eighth at Torrey Pines.