Points wins the Houston Open
D.A. Points came back from a long rain delay and made four pars,
the last one giving him a one-shot victory in the Houston Open on
Sunday and a trip to the Masters.
With a putter he once borrowed from his mother and never
returned, Points rolled in a putt from just outside 12 feet on the
final hole to polish off a 6-under 66 and avoid a sudden-death
playoff with Masters-bound Henrik Stenson and Billy Horschel.
It was quite a turnaround for Points, whose only other PGA Tour
win was at Pebble Beach two years ago with actor Bill Murray along
for the laughs.
He started the year by missing the cut seven times in nine
tournaments. He arrived at Redstone Golf Club having not broken 70
in last nine rounds. But he stayed in the hunt after opening with a
64, and he kept his calm when he returned to the golf course after
a rain delay of nearly three hours.
”Thank you for staying,” Points said to the sparse gallery in
the bleachers as he walked off the green.
Stenson birdied his last two holes for a 66 before the storms
rolled across Houston, and while he came up one shot short, he
moved up to No. 42 in the world ranking to earn an invitation to
the Masters. Horschel was on the 18th tee when play was halted, and
then had to wait some more for his turn to hit on the tough driving
hole. He split the middle, found the green and two-putted for par
to join Stenson in the clubhouse lead.
They waited around for a playoff that wasn’t necessary when
Points saved par on his last two holes.
”I’ve been having a really tough year,” Points said. ”To have
a putt to win, you want that starting out every week. I would have
liked for it to have been closer.”
Points picked up his final birdie on the par-5 13th when the
hole got in the way of his chip and kept the ball from running well
past. It instead stopped 3 feet away.
Then, he made it hard on himself.
His 5-iron to the 17th came up well short, and Points hit a
beautiful pitch-and run to tap-in range for his par. On the final
hole, his hybrid began to sail right of the green toward the
bunkers, but it caught just enough of the grass to hand up in the
rough. He played a peculiar shot, lobbing the pitch instead of
playing it closer to the ground, and the ball came up well short on
the rain-softened green.
The putt dropped into the left corner, and Points screamed so
loud it could be hear over the sparse applause.
Suddenly, his year is looking up.
He finished at 16-under 272, and the win gives him another
two-year exemption. His exemption from the Pebble Beach would have
expired this year. More important, the win gets him back to Augusta
National in two weeks.
Twenty players were separated by four shots going into the final
round, and it stayed that way for a while, with a dozen players
poised to make a run and seize control as the storm clouds
Phil Mickelson opened his final round with four straight
birdies, and he was still in the picture until a three-putt double
bogey on the 14th hole. He had a 68, and wound up six shots
Dustin Johnson had the lead at one point until he missed a short
birdie putt on the 11th, and then hit his 5-wood into the water on
the reachable par-4 12th hole, leading to bogey. He wound up with a
65 and finished two shots behind.
Ben Crane, who played alongside Points, had birdie chances on
the last two holes that would have dropped if he had hit them hard
enough. Crane had a 68 and tied for fourth with Johnson.
Kevin Chappell was briefly tied for the lead. He had a 68 and
tied for sixth, along with Brian Davis (67) and Stewart Cink (70),
who started the final round tied for the lead. Cink returned from
the delay by making a 5-foot par putt, an 18-foot birdie putt and a
10-foot par save on the 17th to get within two shots of the
He needed Points to make bogey on the last hole to have any
chance, and was on the tee when he heard the cheer for a par. Cink
put it into the bunker off the tee and near the green and made his
only bogey of the day.
Jason Kokrak needed a birdie on the 18th to have any chance at a
playoff and yanked his tee shot into the water. Steve Wheatcroft,
the Monday qualifier who started Sunday one shot out of the lead,
had a 74 to tie for 22nd. The good news is that the tournament
ended on Sunday, giving him time to make the next Monday qualifier
in San Antonio.
Rory McIlroy was long gone, on his way north to San Antonio,
when all this was going on. The world’s No. 2 player closed out his
week at the Houston Open by making a 25-foot birdie putt for a 70
and a tie for 45th. McIlroy will play the Texas Open next week
before heading to the Masters.
The consolation prize went to Stenson, who figured he would need
to finish in the top 10 to crack the top 50 in the world in the
final week that Augusta National uses the world ranking to fill out
the field. He did even better, nearly winning the tournament.
”I said to my caddie walking up 18, `No matter what, we’re
playing for a green jacket in a couple of weeks,”’ Stenson said.
”That will be nice.”
It wasn’t so nice for Charles Howell III, who rallied with a 66
but still wound up four shots away from where he needed to finish
to get into the top 50. Howell, who grew up in Augusta, will miss
the Masters for the fourth time in five years.
”I’m not going down the road of disappointment,” he said. ”I
played good. I would love to be in the golf tournament. So would
300 million other golfers. I played well this year and I’m going to
watch the tournament on TV. It’s just horrible to watch on TV, to