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Points Scores Second Tour Victory
D.A. Points survived a two-and-a-half-hour delay caused by a sudden storm that swept through Redstone Golf Club on Sunday to win the Shell Houston Open for his second PGA Tour title. The victory was worth $1.08 million, 500 FedEx Cup points, and a second trip to the Masters for the 36-year-old from Illinois.
Points opened with an 8-under 64 to take the 18-hole lead and closed with a 66 to end up at 16-under 272, a stroke ahead of Henrik Stenson and Bill Horschel, who also carded 66s.
Both runner-ups finished their rounds earlier and waited for the possibility of a sudden-death playoff. But Points - after carding six birdies through the first 13 holes - got pars the rest of the way for his first title since the 2011 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Over four rounds Points dropped only three shots, and throughout the week he gave much of his success to a 1980s-era Ping Anser putter that once belonged to his mother, he had used as a junior, and which once again found its way into his bag this week.
He certainly applied the club to good effect on the par-4 18th at Redstone's Championship course, sinking a 13-foot par putt to secure the win. Pumping his fist and yelling "Yeah!" after the ball disappeared into the hole, Points then walked over to the gallery and hollered "Happy Easter!" to the crowd.
The only player that could tie Points at 16-under was Stewart Cink, who, in the last group with fellow 54-hole leader Bill Haas, needed to hole-out his approach from the huge bunker right of the fairway on No. 18. But Cink's second shot sailed short right, giving the Houston title to Points.
At greenside, Points - who had missed seven cuts in nine official events this year - said he had a laissez-faire approach for the week, which he maintained throughout the final putt. "Whatever happens, happens," he said at greenside of his last par save. "I've been putting well - all I could do was hit a good putt."
As for keeping his emotions in check on Sunday, the easygoing Points - whose amateur partner in the 2011 AT&T was the light-hearted comedian-actor Bill Murray - added, "I kept giving my caddie cheesy grins . . . and that kind of kept us loose."
As for wielding his mother's old putter to great success in Houston and her absentee support on the 72nd hole as she watched it on TV, he noted, "She was probably yelling back in Florida as loud as I was on the putting green."
Stenson and Horschel shared second at 273, with Dustin Johnson (65) and Ben Crane (68) in third at 274. England's Brian Davis (67), Kevin Chappell (68) and Cink (70) shared sixth at 275.
With his high finish, Stenson will join Points at Augusta National in two weeks. "Obviously very happy coming - as I said to my caddie, walking up 18 no matter what, we're playing for a green jacket in a couple of weeks," the 36-year-old Swede told PGA Tour.com.
"That will be nice. That was the main goal coming here. And when I played as well as I did, put myself in a good position, I'm still trying to do well here and then give myself a chance to win this tournament.
"Whether that's going to happen or not, we'll see, but very pleasing finish, four birdies in the last five holes. Some great shots coming down the stretch," added Stenson, who birdied four of the last five holes.
Johnson's 65 was Sunday's low round. The 28-year-old South Carolinian later said it could have been even better, and aspired for a low round to get into contention. "I knew I was going to have to come out and do something special today if I wanted to even have a chance," Johnson told PGATour.com.
"I played really well, 7-under on Sunday, I'll take that anywhere, anytime, and be happy with it. You know, obviously I left a few shots out there, but, you know, that's golf."
Jason Kokrak continues to search for his first Tour win. The long-hitting 27-year-old began the final round a stroke out of the lead but closed with a 70 for solo ninth at 276. Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge (66), Charles Howell III (66), Keegan Bradley (70), Lee Westwood (70), South African Louis Oosthuizen (70) and Haas (72) shared 10th at 277.
Phil Mickelson and three others - Cameron Tringale, Angel Cabrera and Bud Cauley - ended up at 278. For the second straight day Mickelson played well. After opening with a 72 and 71 to make the cut right on the number, the four-time major champion closed with 67 and 68.
"I had a lot of fun today because I got off to a quick start, and after four holes I felt the pressure of having an opportunity to win,'' Mickelson told PGATour.com after carding six birdies and a double-bogey on the par-3 14th. "It was a fun feeling. I love playing well here. Unfortunately, I didn't do much after that.
"I knew it was going to be a shootout and I was going to have to keep going and I couldn't keep pace," added the 2011 Houston Open champion. "I hit a lot of good shots today. I had numerous putts that came off the edge. Even though I didn't make a lot of putts today, I felt good with the putter, was rolling off the face nice, had the right speed. It was on the right line that I wanted, but I didn't read them all correctly."
Rory McIlroy started with a 73 and 70 before shooting 71 and 70 over the weekend. "It's been good," McIlroy told PGATour.com. "Lot of positives to take from it. I've learned a few things as well that I can bring into next week and obviously looking ahead to Augusta, too. It's been a productive week. Obviously not the finish that I would have wanted, but, you know, there's still a lot of things I can take from it.
"I think the way I've struck the ball for the most part has been really good," he said. "I think my short game has been sharp. I think that's been, you know, a very positive sign this week," added McIlroy, who switched plans on Saturday and decided to enter the upcoming Valero Texas Open in San Antonio to get more competitive rounds in before the Masters.
"And, again, I just need to - if I am going to - everyone hits bad shots. I just got to hit the bad shots in the right places, that's the thing, and not short-side myself and hit them in hazards and sort of give myself a little more margin for error, I guess."
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