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
What is your prediction for D.A. Points in 2013? Fill out the form below and let us know.
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.
About last year's winner:
- On the greens of Pebble Beach Golf Links he missed just one putt inside 10 feet (31 of 32) ranking T-2nd from this distance. He also ranked 5th in the field for putts gained, outperforming the field by over four total strokes with his putter on the host course.
- For the week, Points made a career best tying two eagles and 23 total birdies (also made 23 birdies at the 2010 Greenbrier Classic).
The key shot? His eagle on No. 14 (Watch it here)
On the par-5 14th hole, Points holed out from 100 yards for eagle to take the lead. Points was the only player to eagle the 14th hole all week. In fact, the last player to eagle the 14th hole in this event prior to Points was in 2004, when Scott Gutschewski holed out from 67 yards for eagle in the third round.
How hard was that shot?
The average third shot on the 14th hole measured 118.7 yards.
From this distance, only one in every three 3
players (37 percent) found the green, and when they did, they were 40 feet to the pin on average.
At a mere 6,816 yards, Pebble Beach remains the shortest course on the PGA TOUR. It's a chip shot shorter than Monterey Peninsula CC, another course in the Pebble rota:
|Pebble Beach||6,816||AT&T Pebble Beach|
|Monterey Peninsula||6,836||AT&T Pebble Beach|
|TPC River Highlands||6,841||Travelers Championship|
|El Camaleon||6,923||Mayakoba Golf Classic|
|PGA West (Nicklaus)||6,924||Humana Challenge|
-- ShotLink data by Alex Turnbull
Got a question for D.A. Points? Send us your questions for Direct Connect -- PGATOUR.COM’s newest video franchise that gets you closer to a PGA TOUR pro each week -- and host John Swantek might use it when he chats this week with Points, who is the defending champ at this week's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Just fill out the form below and you might get an answer from Points.
Direct Connect video will be posted each Wednesday afternoon on PGATOUR.COM