April 28 2013
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
AVONDALE, La. -- Maybe Billy Horschel was hoping for a "coast" to the finish line but I thought D.A. Points keeping pace was a good thing. With Points applying pressure, Horschel had to focus all the way to the final putt. Without that head-to-head confrontation, it would have been tempting to play conservatively and that approach could have led to bogeys. Points' sparkling play kept Horschel on point as well.
Composure: There was a time when Horschel had a reputation. In college, his chile would run a little hot. After making bogey on the 15th hole, Horschel was visibly upset. You could see him reach the boiling point and yet somehow on the 50-yard walk to the 16th tee, Horschel regained his composure. He took a very aggressive line to carry a fairway bunker with his tee shot and from 108 yards stuffed a wedge to within 5 feet. The ensuing birdie re-established his lead and offered confirmation of Horschel's maturity as a player.
Rain delay: Hats off to PGA TOUR Officials who made every call correctly in the final round. With rain in the forecast, they implemented “preferred lies” from the very beginning of the round even though it took the weather system three hours to arrive. Mud balls would have been a huge problem if lift, clean and place had not been in effect following the rain storm. Remember, preferred lies can only be implemented at the start of a stroke-play round for equity purposes. Officials correctly stopped play a little more than a half hour before the heavy morning rain began. That gave spectators and competitors ample time to seek shelter.
Alignment: D.A. Points has a curious pre-shot routine before putting. He takes his left hand and folds it across his chest, then takes one handed practice strokes. It accomplishes two things. Points can feel the toe of the putter release during the practice stroke and it helps keep his shoulders aligned. Many golfers open their shoulders just the slightest bit while taking one last look down the line. Points has also perfected a no look, back-hand flip of the golf ball to his caddy. It's an assist that would make Greivis Vasquez jealous.
Numbers: Horschel put up some very impressive statistics this week and in particular, on Sunday. He hit 59 of 72 greens for the week and was 17 of 18 in the final round. Horschel not only hit greens, he gave himself makeable putts, hitting it an average of 28 feet, 2 inches to rank fourth in the tournament. He was third this week in strokes gained-putting and was first in putts per green in regulation at 1.559. When you crunch all the numbers, only Points kept this tournament from being a runaway.
Golf gods: As Ken Looper left the 17th green, he spotted me standing in the player's exit and came over for a chat. He excitedly said a par on the 18th hole would mean a top-10 finish and a slot in next week's Wells Fargo Championship. He looked like a child on Christmas morning and it was impossible not to share his enthusiasm. Looper is from Louisiana, he Monday qualified for this tournament and everyone appreciated his play. The only problem was the golf gods were listening and there was still a drive to be hit. Looper hit that drive into the water hazard and made bogey. He finished T21. Like Sisyphus, the gods of golf who tantalized him would not allow the boulder to be pushed to the top of the hill.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.