Good chemistry helps Points, Murray to AT&T Pro-Am title

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Good times led to good golf this week for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am winners.
February 13, 2011
Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM Chief of Correspondents

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Turns out, it was a match made in heaven. And not just because D.A. Points can recite virtually every line from the Bill Murray classic, "Caddyshack."


When the two men met for the first time at a charity function on Tuesday night, the comedian told the PGA TOUR veteran he wanted to have as much fun as possible this week at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Oh, and one more thing. He wanted to try to win.

"And (D.A.) said, 'Those two things usually go together,'" Murray recalled. "And I thought, that's about as solid an endorsement of where we are going this week as I could have gotten. I felt like, this is cool, this could really happen. And it did."

In fact, the more fans Murray high-fived, the more detours the comic took into the crowd to distribute ice cream bars or sip someone's adult beverage and the more bunkers he frolicked in wearing that unsightly red Elmer Fudd hat, the better Points played.

And when all the scores were added up on Sunday afternoon, Points had an extremely memorable first PGA TOUR victory and Murray had won the pro-am competition for the first time since he started playing 20 years ago in what began as Bing Crosby's annual clambake for his own celebrity friends.

Make no mistake. Points, who rose to No. 2 in the FedExCup, hit the kind of shots he needed to win. Some brilliant shots, even, like that gap wedge he holed from 100 yards out for eagle on the 14th hole Sunday that gave him the lead for good. But he clearly prospered in the relaxed atmosphere Murray created, even if it was occasionally over the top.

"When I'm are more chatty and more outgoing, it helps me," said Points, who called out to the crowd, as is his custom, and thanked them for coming as he walked off the 18th green Sunday. "You look at Rocco Mediate and Peter Jacobsen and other guys that I look up to, even Mr. Palmer, he had his army. When he was in that mode, everybody spurred him onto play better.

"And I think that's something that I need to be better at instead of just boring walking down the fairway, minding my own business and not saying anything."

So Points, as he put it, "embraced" the opportunity to play with his idol, the man who gave life to greenskeeper Carl Spackler in the most famous golf movie of all time. He focused on the shots when he needed to hit them, but Points -- who had never before finished higher than third -- clearly enjoyed the antics of a man once thought by some to be a little too outrageous for the game.

When he was honing his craft as a member of the Second City improvisational group many years ago, Murray said he learned that if you made the other guy look good you didn't have to worry about yourself. And that's what he tried to do for Points, whom he repeatedly called the "knucklehead" as the pressure intensified on the back nine on Sunday.

"I think most people playing in a tournament, or any enterprise, they just get too nervous," Murray said, at times reflective and reactive as he sipped a glass of red wine during the post-tournament interview. "... But staying loose, I mean, the best people in any profession, the whole thing is about being as relaxed as you can.

"Michael Jordan is all about being relaxed. He's the greatest there was and couldn't be more relaxed and great actors are the same way. There's almost no tension in them."

Of course, after Points opened a two-shot lead with a big-breaking 28-footer for birdie at the 15th hole, both he and his partner starting feeling the heat. Murray, who said he couldn't stop laughing after that improbable putt curved into the cup, would even say later the last three holes were an "out of body" experience.

Points and Murray win at Pebble

D.A. Points' first PGA TOUR victory comes with pro-am victory alongside actor Bill Murray at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

"I just started laughing and laughing and laughing and laughing, because I realized that this is it now, and, I don't know, it's like when I see real art, I laugh," Murray said. "When I see a Rembrandt, I laugh, because it's just this combination of this beautiful thing, it's alive, yet it's not.

"And that moment of his making birdie is like, ... we have won this tournament and yet we are not done yet. I knew it was that moment. I was just babbling up there."

Points, on the other hand, was getting a little wobbly as he contemplated a 6-footer for par on the 16th hole. So he took a cue from his partner, who was staring down a lengthy putt for par.

"I think the fans would really like to see you make this," the grinning Points remembers saying loudly. The strategy worked wonders.

"Even just getting into that mode for a second to root him on and to kind of play around with him totally took me just out of the moment for just enough to kind of help bring me back to life a little bit," Points said. "And then I was able to sneak the putt in the left side and then my composure got a little better and I played solid the last two holes."

"That was a big thing, because the crowd laughed," Murray agreed. "... It was done. 17 and 18, we were buying ice cream bars (for the fans)."

The $1.134 million Points earned for the victory was more than he pocketed all of last season -- and just over $200,000 less than the best year of his PGA TOUR career. But, dare we say, more important was what turned out to be a real-life Cinderella story that would have made even Carl Spackler proud.

"Probably it will take me a really long time to truly grasp what I was able to accomplish with Bill this week," Points said with a perpetual grin that seemed planted on his face all week. "I grew up on the 17th hole of the local country club in Pekin, Illinois, and both of my parents played and taught me the game.

"To win on the PGA TOUR, and especially at Pebble Beach and especially with Bill Murray, gosh, I mean, I don't think I could even dream it up. I don't think I could even dream it that well."