D.A. Points leads the field in strokes gained-putting and made 169 feet, 4 inches of putts on Thursday.
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
HUMBLE, Texas -- D. A. Points should give his mom a phone call tonight and say “thank you.” She played a role in D.A. shooting 8 under in the opening round of the Shell Houston Open.
When D.A. was 11, he took a Ping Anser putter out of his Mom’s golf bag and used it during his junior golf career. That putter was back in the lineup on Thursday and helped Points shoot a 64. He used just 23 putts in the round and ranks No. 1 in strokes gained-putting at 4.813. He made 169 feet, 4 inches worth of putts. Points had been very loyal to his SeeMore putter since 2004 but after making just two of nine cuts this year, he needed a switch. He also needed a golf lesson. Points got some instruction this week from Brian White and it all came together for him in the opening round.
Difficult: Redstone Golf Club played very difficult. The wind did not just blow, it swirled, making club selection very difficult. It also swept away any moisture from the greens. The putting surfaces were firm at the start of the week and became crusty as the round unfolded. The combination of swirling wind and firm greens had players frustrated.
Fast: If players caught the wind just right, they could ride the wind to tremendous distances. At the 592 yard, 15th hole, Keegan Bradley hit a 330-yard drive and reached the green from 262 yards out. He missed the 8-foot eagle putt but walked away with a very easy birdie en route to shooting a 70.
Overcast: Skies were dark for much of the morning, allowing the greens to retain just a little bit of moisture. The morning starters got the better end of the draw but there were birdies to be made in the afternoon. John Rollins shot a 65 with a 12:30 tee time. He peppered the greens, hitting 15 of 18. Rollins will have an early time on Friday and could do some damage on the fresh greens.
Sand man: Rory McIlroy came into the tournament ranked No. 1 in sand saves, getting up and down 77.78 percent of the time. He gave a demonstration on the seventh hole. His ball was short-sided, in the right-hand bunker and McIlroy accelerated through the shot, splashing it out to within a foot of the cup. The strike was so solid you could hear the thump of the sand as the ball came out with spin.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here
Rory McIlroy says he's "still a little bit tentative on the golf course." (Halleran/Getty Images)
By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
HUMBLE, Texas -- It’s all about getting comfortable.
And Rory McIlroy isn’t quite there. Not yet anyway.
McIlroy took a step back right out of the gate Thursday afternoon when he bogeyed the second hole at Redstone and took two more at the eighth hole when he doubled to turn at 3 over. But the world No. 2 settled down on the back nine, birdied four of the next six holes and finished the day with an opening 1-over 73.
“I kept in good spirits,’’ said McIlroy, who is nine shots behind leader D.A. Points. “I didn’t get too down on myself. It would have been great to finish at even par, but 1 over . . .’’
Well, it wasn’t horrible. Especially considering the wind was blowing 10 to 20 mph in the afternoon, the greens got firm and 75 percent of the day’s low scores came from the morning rounds.
“I think if I just eliminate the stupid mistakes, you know, I made double on a par 5 on the front nine and made a couple of silly bogeys,’’ he said. “If I can, you know, just not do that and keep playing the way I'm playing, I feel like I'm playing OK.’’
This is McIlroy’s fourth start of the year.
“I think I'm still a little bit tentative on the golf course and not committing to my shots fully,’’ he said, “so -- but I think that just takes time and hopefully another three rounds this week and some good scores will give me confidence going into the Masters.’’
There’s no question he’s hitting more good shots than he was early in the year, but he’s not letting it go. “It needs to get more free-flowing,’’ he said.
And he needs to cut down on the mistakes. The ones he made at the eighth that led to the double bogey.
“I just tried to commit to myself a little more on the back nine and seemed to help,’’ he said. “So, a couple of loose shots here and there, but all in all, it was a tricky day, and if I could have got it back to even par, I would have been pretty happy, but I'm 1-over par and hopefully the conditions are a little calmer tomorrow morning and go throughout and make some more birdies."
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 -- Two balls in the water at the eighth hole. Another bogey on the front.
And, before you ask, neither one had anything to do with the wind that was snapping around every corner at Redstone Thursday morning.
It was all Lee Westwood.
“Operator error? No. It was the organ grinder,’’ he said grinning.
What else could he do?
What should have been at worst a 66 turned into an opening 4-under 68, so it was hard to complain too much. Unless you count the grumbling about his lousy par-5 play this year.
“I must have the worst par 5s of anyone this year,’’ said Westwood, who tied for eighth at the 2010 Shell Houston Open. “It was like dropping four shots really. A 68 is as high has I could have shot.’’
A run of three birdies at 12, 13 and 14 righted things just a bit, but Westwood was still a bit miffed. He’s been hard at work on his short game all year and these little blips keep popping up.
“I don’t know whether I’m trying to be too aggressive or what," he said. "I suppose it goes in spells like that. It’s not like they were two really bad shots on the par 5s, really."
Just bad enough that his short game had to save the day for bogey.
“My short game and pitching are really good, so there’s no reason why the par-5 scoring shouldn’t sharpen up,’’ he said.
Hopefully, he said, in time for the Masters. Westwood plans to take next week off, then head to Augusta, play an 18-hole practice round Monday, then nine holes each the next two days to ease into the year’s first major.
And take advantage of his putter the way he did in the opening round.
He made four putts of 10 feet or longer -- and a tough chip at 17, which settled in just 7 feet away, which bodes well for this week, not just the Masters.
Boo Weekley carded a 2-under 70 in the first round of the Shell Houston Open on Thursday. Here he reacts to a shot on the eighth hole at Redstone, where he made a birdie 4.
Think you can write a caption for this photo? Give it a shot. And as always, please keep it clean!
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.’’
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Save for the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, it's been a rough year for Jason Kokrak.
In his seven other starts, Kokrak has four missed cuts, a WD and hasn't finished inside the top 70.
"I think I was just putting a lot of pressure on myself, going out there and thinking about the cut line, thinking about different things," he said.
Thursday in Houston, however, the 27-year-old shot a 6-under 66 to sit near the top of the leaderboard.
So what sparked his lowest round since a final-round 65 at PGA West back in January?
For one, Kokrak figured out a couple of weeks ago he was taking the club back shut. For another, he had a comfortable pairing in Brian Harman and David Lingmerth -- two guys he knows well.
"The golf course sets up well for me," Kokrak continued. "It's a long enough golf course, the greens are firm enough where I can take advantage because I'm hitting a lot shorter irons into the holes.
"It's easy for me to spin it and hold it in position where I wanted it to."
And now he's in a better position on the leaderboard, too.