March 29 2013
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
HUMBLE, Texas -- Steve Wheatcroft was lying in bed Thursday night, alone in the darkness of his hotel room.
He couldn’t sleep. Not because he was nervous after shooting a 67 in the opening round of the Shell Houston Open, but because Wheatcroft was mad after watching his alma mater Indiana lose in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Eventually his thoughts did turn to golf and the frustration of hitting just eight of 14 fairways in the opening round. Even though Wheatcroft was 5 under, he knew the scoring would not continue unless his driving improved. He devised a different alignment before drifting off to sleep and used it during his second round warm up. It worked. Wheatcroft hit 11 of 14 fairways, which led to 16 greens and another 67.
A restless night of sleep, fueled by a basketball game, could be very profitable for Wheatcroft this weekend.
Patience: D.A. Points was treading water and getting tired of it. He had made par at the first 11 holes of the second round. Not a single birdie or bogey. Even par was a solid score on a windy Friday afternoon but after shooting 64 in the opening round, all those pars started to grind on Points. He remained patient. That’s so easy to say and so difficult to accomplish in golf. Points was finally rewarded with a birdie on the 12th hole. That would be his only one of the day combined with 17 pars. The patience Points showed on Friday was as impressive as the nine birdies he made on Thursday.
Management: Wheatcroft knows a “sucker pin” when he sees one. In the midst of a great round of golf, he had the discipline to shoot away from the hole at both the sixth and seventh when the cup was cut dangerously close to the edge. Wheatcroft has never won on the PGA TOUR but his thought process was that of a champion in the second round.
Eagles: Lee Westwood is in the midst of a curious run. He has yet to record an eagle this year and is ranked 139th in par-5 scoring with a stroke average of 4.69. For the week, Westwood has made two birdies and two bogeys on the par 5s and is still T16. It’s so early in the season it would be unfair to say Westwood has a problem. The sample size is too small to draw conclusions but his play on par 5s is strange.
Got it: For a man who had just barely made the cut, Phil Mickelson was upbeat following his round. He said he was very pleased with his second nine on Friday and made some “really good swings.” He also said he “knew” what the fix was for his game and was really looking forward to the weekend.
Schedule: Rory McIlroy looked so surprised he did not know how to answer. I asked if he would consider adding next week’s Valero Texas Open to his schedule. He fumbled for an answer saying he never even considered that option and wondered if he could still enter late on a Friday afternoon. Two hours later it was announced McIlroy had entered next week’s event. If he wins, I’m asking for a percentage for making the suggestion.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here