Shell Houston Open interview: D.A. Points

March 31, 2013

DOUG MILNE: Okay. We will jump right in. We'd lead to welcome D.A. Points, winner of the 2013 Shell Houston Open. I know that sounds good, your second career PGA TOUR win, 6-under, 66 today. Set off a little bit by some weather, but you got the job done. Spectacular putt there at the 72nd hole. With that, I'll turn it over to you for some comments and we'll take some questions.
D.A. POINTS: Wow. Well, today was kind of like the last couple of days except I made some putts. I hit it well the last couple days and today I hit maybe one of the best fairway bunker shots of my life on the 2nd hole. I hit a knockdown 5-iron to a back right pin to 7, 8 feet and made that. It kind of got me going in the right direction. The putt was really good.
And then on 3 I hit two good shots and made a 25-footer and was like, okay, the putter feels good, swing was starting to feel good, and I played really, really solid. I mean, just -- I felt like I was playing great. Not that I was making everything, not that I was hitting it 2 feet from the hole every time, but I was hitting it kind of where I needed to hit it and where I wanted to hit it. I was making good decisions and hitting good chips and pitches and solid putts. I was just playing really, really good golf.
DOUG MILNE: With that said, we'll open it up for some questions.

Q. I know you're a guy who has a lot of self-confidence. Based on your results coming into this week, did you see this coming anytime soon?
The thing about how I've been my whole career, I did something similar to this my very first year on the Tour in 2010 where I was playing like garbage the whole year. And then I went and saw and old instructor, he gave me a couple things, and I came back and won.
You know, that's just kind of how things are for me. Last year when I lost in the playoff at Wells Fargo, I missed the cut the week before at New Orleans, went home, saw my teacher, came back, gave me something, boom, hit it great, lost in the playoff.
I've been hitting it better and better, and I saw Brian White for a putting lesson. Gave me a couple things, changed the putter, boom, felt great, and here I am.
So, the thing about it, is I never count myself out. I never just chalk it up, like, oh, this year is over with. I've never ever felt like that. I was just grinding, just trying to wait and try to find that one thing that was like, boom, there it is and there I go.
Fortunately, it was this week and I capitalized on it.

Q. Did you know Brian?
Never met him before.

Q. Steve Stroud put him with you?
Chris Stroud. He just said, hey, he's in town, he'll give you an hour Wednesday morning. He pushed his flight. Sent me a text and said, you can just pay for my change fee and that will be payment enough for the lesson. I probably should kick him a little more than that.

Q. He was on his way out of town?
Yeah. Pushed his flight back.

Q. What made you think this is a guy you didn't even know, obviously had to trust Chris's judgment. How do you go to a guy like that, just because you're searching?
I was struggling. I mean, when you're not putting good and you're not hitting it good, when you're not playing well, you know -- and the things that he was saying at first I wasn't in love with, but I knew that what he was saying wasn't wrong, and I decided, well, what I've been doing right now isn't getting it done. It's certainly not going to hurt me to try something different.
And this putting style or this stroke and the things I'm thinking about aren't completely foreign. I've thought about this stuff before. So, when I got out there and started doing, it wasn't like, oh, wow, I feel like I'm putting left-handed. It was something I had done before. It's just been several years since I thought about it.

Q. Did you talk about this stuff yet?
Basically, I switched from a center-shafted onset SeeMore putter to a Ping Anser that was offset and, you know, he was just trying to get me -- when I was hitting my putts originally, I was adding too much loft at impact. I was kind of releasing the club too early.
So he was kind of getting me to put a little bit different energy into the ball. I feel like I'm almost hitting down on it, and with that, the ball started rolling real tight. My hit got a little more consistent. I stopped missing putts to the left, and, I mean, when I hit good putts this week, the line on my ball rolled so tight, it just looked like it was going to dive in the hole. That was the really nice putt.

Q. Did you ever get so mad at the putter you considered not playing with it in this tournament?

Q. You had a great round Thursday.
No. No. It didn't really matter. I mean, I had another Anser and I had another putter that I was tinkering around with Wednesday. And we all three, my caddy and Brian and myself, just kind of said the older one looks a little better in my hands. Why don't you go with that one.

Q. Did the Ping guys fix it a little bit this week or earlier?
They fixed it probably around 2003 or '4.

Q. They didn't do anything to it this week.
It's literally been sitting in my garage since -- no sooner than 2005 -- yeah, no sooner, probably the end of 2004 is probably when I stopped.

Q. How many other putters you have in that garage?
A few. 30 or 40 putters.

Q. The chances of your mom getting it back now are pretty slim and none?
I think mom is just fine with me having it.

Q. With playing under the pressure situations, you want to focus on what you're doing right then and there and not anything in the past. A year ago or so, you were in the same situation needing a par to win and you didn't. You talked about that maybe helping you the next time you're in that. Could you feel that difference?
Yeah. You know, again, both super difficult holes, both holes that set-up awful for me because I like to move it left to right and both holes you need to basically hook it off of, and I still hit good shots. I picked the right club off the tee.
You know, I don't like hitting 3-wood, 3-iron into a par 4 ever, but it was the right play and I really hit a nice second shot. The wind was supposed to be a little off the right on 18 today. I'm certainly not going to flag hunt from 231, what I was.
So I was just trying to hit. I hit a nice shot and it just didn't quite fall off like I was expecting, and I had a really tough pitch and I hit it pretty close to how I wanted to. I thought it might roll out a little bit more than that and then the putt, you know, was as good as I could hit.

Q. Did you misjudge the green speed because it was --
Little bit. Again, it's not a shot that you're going to be aggressive with because it is downhill, down grain, running away from you and on the other side is water. So it's not like I'm going to try and hit a hot checker in there. It was one I was trying to hit and trickle down to the hole.

Q. How much of a pain is it to have to scramble for housing at Augusta?
I don't care (laughter). I don't know. I have a very well-trained agent, Brad Daphone, who I'm sure is already on the horn. As a matter of fact, I stayed at a good friend -- I stayed next to a very good friend of mine John Engler, who actually played on Tour a few years ago. I stayed next door to him the last time I was there. Maybe there's an outside chance that house is available.

Q. Did you even have the Masters on your radar screen when you got here this week or a couple weeks ago?
I never not think it's on my radar. You know, again, I want to win. I want to win more than once. I want to have the opportunity to win Majors and win Majors, I want to play in Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups. These are things I want to do and I know I'm capable of doing.
So I never doubt that I can do it. I certainly get down and frustrated when I make two of 9 cuts. That's not making you feel real great about yourself. Again, I never thought that I wasn't going to make it. I just thought this is an opportunity and just like next week, I signed up for next week -- I wasn't sure if I was going to go and then I thought well, I'm playing pretty good this week. Let's see if I can kind of get on a little bit of a roll, so I signed up for next week as well.

Q. You got the Tavistock off your wish list.
That's right. There's one and a win this year. So, yeah, I'm on a roll.

Q. You never made a putt that big, a putt to win it. Talk about that out there earlier. What was going through your head? Walk us through what was going through your head.
Again, probably a ball outside the right and I knew it was downhill, down grain, and it was a great putt to have because I knew that I didn't have to hit the putt. I could just make a good stroke, get the ball started somewhat on line and hopefully gravity would take it the rest of the way.
But I was just saying to myself, I mean, literally right up until I pulled it back, whatever happens, happens. Whatever happens, happens just so that I could be -- just to try to take it off myself.
It's not like I don't want to make it. It's not like I'm not trying to make it. If I hit a good putt and it goes, that's what's supposed to happen. If I don't -- the fortunate thing, too, I probably two-put and worse case scenario, I got a playoff and I still got a chance to win. It was nice to get it done right away, but I'm very proud that I made it.

Q. Feel good to know that you can win out here without Bill Murray?
Absolutely. I mean, that sounds silly but -- because I wasn't sure how I was going to recreate the same kind of levity that I had with Bill and I always reference one big point on the 16th green at Pebble, I hit a horrible tee shot off the tee and I hit a 5-iron short of the green and I kind of chunk it around and chip up and got like a 5-footer for par.
My caddie looks at me, how are you feeling?
I'm like, I'm freaking out. I feel awful. I'm so nervous.
He's like, oh. He didn't know.
And so I'm sitting there and shaking and trying to figure out some way to relax and to calm myself down, and Bill had like a 40-footer for par.
I look over at Bill and say, hey, the whole crowd came here to watch you make this putt so why don't you roll it in? He laughed, because that's what he says to me over just about every putt.
So I turned it around on him. It was just enough of that to kind of break the tension. I calmed down, I rolled in the putt and then went on to par the last two. So what I kind of came up with today was I would just get a really cheesy grin to my caddie because as it's been noted that I can be hard on myself and I don't do as much smiling on the golf course as I probably should. So, every time he wasn't looking at me, I'd kind of look at him with this big, cheesy grin. He would start laughing and I would instantly laugh. That was just enough of the stuff to break the tension.
Like he was talking to me about going on canoeing trips walking down the 18th fairway. I mean, he's -- Travis and I are newly together and he actually played on the PGA TOUR in 2008 and he's a really good caddy and a really good guy, and I'm happy for him almost as I am for me.

Q. Can you show us the grin?
Travis said you guys only been together like five tournaments and he was trying to figure out ways for you to relax. You've been focusing on that. Why the tension and how did it change this week?
Well, I mean, the tension is tension. It's you're job. You want to do your job well. When you're not doing it well, it provides tension, or when you get in an area that your confidence goes down a little bit. But this week, especially today, man, I was -- before that rain delay, I was cooking. Like I was everything was good, my swing felt great, my distance control felt really good, and in the whole time that we were on that delay, I wasn't -- I kept trying to tell myself we were going back out and say, wow, I still feel really good. Even if we don't go out, it's okay.
But, I mean, I still feel really good, I'm playing great. Still got a chance. I was trying to have four good birdie putts coming in and I had one and a half good birdie putts going in, but, nevertheless, it was enough to get it done.

Q. What did you do during the down time?
I watched the Louisville/Duke game. As I said out there, my prayers go out to the young man who broke his leg, Ware. It was really scary. I feel terrible for him and his family.

Q. You didn't hole out, but I wonder if you see any parallels to 14 at Pebble and 13 where that ball was smoking by the hole pretty good until it hit the cup and set up a tap-in birdie?
I still think the ball would have stayed on the green. Probably the bigger break was it didn't go in the high rough on the second shot. That was probably like the one shot the whole day that I was kind of like, do we lay up or go ahead and beat 3-wood down there and try to pitch it on the green. And I hit a 3-wood yesterday like 280 yards. I had like 285 front today.
So we were like, what the heck, beat it down there, make sure you keep it right of the flag so you can have a decent angle. Then I kind of blocked it out and hit it to the right and I thought it went in like the higher grass, and I thought, oh, boy, this is going to be -- I still thought I could get it on the green but this is going to be tough.
I got up there and it just bent around a little bit and I had a pretty good lie. When I hit the shot, the ground underneath was so firm, it kind of bounced a little bit and I didn't get a lot of spin on it. But, I mean, when it was going, I was like, wow, this is going to go in because it was dead lined up and it hit the flag and stopped and I had 3-footer or whatever.
Yeah, the shot not going in the high grass, I think, is almost more of a big break than shot hitting the flag.

Q. Apologies if you already talked about this, could you talk about how you played the pitch on 17 and the significance of that to at least have a one-shot lead?
Yeah. You know, I walked it off and I had, I don't know, I had like 38 yards or 40 yards or something like that to the hole. I was kind of in between a pitching wedge and gap pitching wedge, but I thought since we had all this rain and it's uphill into the grain, I could just hit a normal like kind of a pitch and run with a pitching wedge, land it four, five paces on the green and it will run all the way back there.
I've been working really hard on my pitching this year as far as just making sure I hit it solid, and my thought was just focus on the ball, you know, kind of have, you know, kind of overemphasize keeping my head down to make sure that I hit that thing solid. And when I hit it solid and saw it tracking, it was also one that I was like if -- this is on a great line. This could go in. To get it up there with a gimme was huge, huge.

Q. How far into the putt did you feel like it was going?
On 18?

Q. Yes.
Probably not until 6 or 8 inches before, because it was breaking left and I didn't know with the wetness and everything if it was going to really just lose its speed and fall off line. It held in there just enough and I was, as you saw, very excited.

Q. What was the yardage on the approach on 18?
231. And I had a 21-degree hybrid, which is like my 3-iron hybrid.

Q. What did you have on 17?
17 I had 2 -- like 214 or 15 yards. I tried to hit a 5-iron. And it was probably not enough club, but I was, you know, little pumped up and I had a slight downslope and I thought it might come out a little lower, and then I didn't make good swing. I hit behind it, I think I was trying to hit it too hard.

Q. What did Ben say to you?
He's like, wow, that was awesome. That was great. I know you've had a tough start to the year and it's been a struggle. He's like, you know, way to be positive and hang in there and great putt, great finish.

Q. I'd get fired if I don't ask this. What does a small town do to you, how did it shape you into being what you are as a professional?
Well, you know, I think it makes me definitely appreciate all the things that we've got to do, my wife and I and my family, you know. You know, growing up in Pekin, it was a big golf town, four golf courses for 35,000 people. That's a lot of golf for that amount of people.
Just a good place to grow up. I was very fortunate. My parents, I feel like, you know, did a lot of things right and kept me pretty honest and pretty humble and tried to keep me very grounded, and they still do to this day. I've never been one to read a lot of press clippings or watch much on TV or anything like that. I just try to keep my head down and do what I'm supposed to.

Q. Have you always gone by the initials?
Yeah. My parents have never ever called me Darren Andrew ever.

Q. Not even when they're mad at you?
Never. My mom doesn't say my name. She starts talking and I better listen. (Laughter).
DOUG MILNE: All right. D.A., congratulations.
D.A. POINTS: Thank y'all very much. Thank you. I appreciate it.