D.A. Points waited out a three-hour rain delay and his par putt on the 72nd hole gave him a one shot victory at the Shell Houston Open in Humble, Texas. The American posted 16-under-par 272 to defeat Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and American Billy Horschel by one shot to claim his second-career victory on TOUR. His 66 on Sunday was only one of three bogey-free rounds on the day.
Man, these guys are good! D.A. Points started the season M.I.A. and his game was almost D.O.A. with his best finishes in nine events being T63 and T68. There was absolutely zero reason to rate him this week especially when he had only played four of 10 career rounds at the Tournament Course at Redstone under par. A reader, who shall remain nameless, asked me where were the "fades" in my weekly column. I replied that I was sorry to leave that out this week but if there was one guy to fade, it would be D.A. Points. Now you see why I don’t include that in my column anymore! Last year, I did, and I said to avoid Carl Pettersson. He finished second. I can’t wait to see who I will fade next year because I will then fade myself and go with that pick!
So how did he do it? He found a way to get under par and up-and-down from everywhere. The average winning score here since 2006 had been 16-under and he matched that even though he was struggling with his game and struggling to break par. When golfers struggle, they change clubs, caddies, you name it. Points decided to use an old Ping putter his mom used to play with. Why not use your mom’s old putter? Well, it worked!
This is where fantasy golf is just that, fantasy; but D.A. Points is living the dream and heading back to Augusta for the Masters for the second time in his career. The win for Points was his only top 10 in his previous 25 events after losing in a playoff to Rickie Folwer at Quail Hollow in 2012. In his last 10 rounds before this week, he played exactly one of them in the 60s. Just to add more confusion, he’s now won a pro-am on Poa annua and regular TOUR event on lightning-quick Bermuda greens. I learned that it’s close to impossible to pick a winner in fantasy golf each week if the last name is not Woods.
With this victory, Points collects $1,116,000, 500 FedExCup points and extends his exemption on TOUR through 2015.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
There have been 14 tournaments on TOUR this season. All 14 winners have been Americans. This is a recording and amazing run of play.
In 2013 10 of the 13 stroke-play events this season the 54-hole leader (or co-leader) has gone on to victory. In 2012, this was the exact opposite trend. This week, Points began the final round one shot behind 54-hole leaders Bill Haas and Stewart Cink so this was the exception, not the rule.
The winners on TOUR have been Johnson (28), Henley (24), Gay (41), Woods THRICE (37), Mickelson (42), Snedeker (32), Merrick (30) Kuchar (34),Thompson, M (27) Brown (29), Streelman (34) and now Points (36). The young folks (30 and younger) have five victories; the 30-somethings now have seven victories, and the “old folks” (40 and up) have their two wins. This week’s “great hope” for the Old folks was Phil Mickelson checking in at T16.
Here’s the top 10 and we learned about them:
Henrik Stenson: After his T8 last week at API, Stenson knew he needed another big week this week to get himself in the OWGR top 50 and back into the Masters. He followed up his top 10 last week with T2 this week in Houston to make that dream a reality. After failing to break par on the weekend here last year, the Swede only made four bogeys the ENTIRE week this year. He birdied four of his last five on Sunday to take the clubhouse lead before the rain hit but he fell one birdie short. Don’t forget, this guy has won the WGC-Match Play and THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP so if he gets it going, get on board.
Billy Horschel: What’s the fastest way to chase fantasy players away from a TOUR player? By shooting 85 in a final round and that’s exactly what Horschel did last week at Bay Hill. What’s the fastest way to get back on that same horse? By firing 67-66 on the weekend and leading the field in strokes gained-putting for the week. Horschel has now made 20 cuts on the trot and hits the podium for the first time in his career. He birdied 15 of his last 32 holes this weekend. He’s been in the column enough times on Tuesdays that you should be quite familiar with what he can do. This was his second top 10 of the year and there will be many, many more down the road.
Dustin Johnson: I remarked on Tuesday that he was getting closer and the curse of the new lady was wearing thin after his T12 at the WGC-Cadillac in his last outing. He put it together on Sunday with the low round of the day, 65, to jump into T4. By posting 19 birdies and an eagle this week, it shows all of us that he’s close to being back to that level that we expect week in and week out. Next stop, Augusta.
Ben Crane: In seven events leading into this week, Crane posted one top 10 and that was in the first week of February at the WMPO. His other two finishes of the season were T64 and T65 so it could be argued that his T4 this week was also completely unexpected. He beat Horschel last Sunday at API by six shots in firing 79 so I don’t think that would have caused many to run and jump on board. Now, he’s moved into official “horse-for-course” territory in Houston as he’s finished T4, T29, T24, T25, MC and T20 in his last six starts. Some guys just play well in certain places no matter their current form. This was a prime example.
Brian Davis: Most people in the golf world, including myself, thought after he called a penalty on himself at HHI in a playoff with Jim Furyk that the Golf Gods would smile down on Davis and reward him down the road. Nope. After he got off to a very nice start in 2012 (three T4s; T9) he missed eight of 12 cuts coming in and six of eight to start off 2013. To say his T6 this week was a surprise would be a gross understatement based on his current form but he has had success at Redstone before. He adds this year’s T6 to T4 (2012), T48 (2011), MC (2010) and T14 in 2009. Please add another “horse-for-course” to the stable at Redstone.
Kevin Chappell: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Chappell opened his season with a T8 at Humana and before this weekend had made exactly one more cut in 7 events, finishing T24 at WMPO. He missed five straight entering this week and was 0-1 at SHO. Sure, go on, finish T6! Did he think this was the U.S. Open? His last round in the 60s was the first week in February! Why not this week!
Stewart Cink: The 54-hole leader still hasn’t won on TOUR since The Open Championship in 2009 when he defeated Tom Watson. Speaking of Golf Gods and Karma, Cink dropped to as low as 300-something on the OWGR before making his way back up the ranks. He has now made five cuts in a row and with this T6 has his second top 10 of 2013. That’s two more than 22 starts in 2012. This was his best finish on TOUR since his T5 at the WGC-Match Play in 2010. He was a bargain in salary cap games so I hope you got on board. He might be a nice, inexpensive addition moving forward. If you think he “fluked” it this week, remember, he made exactly TWO bogeys in 72 holes. TWO.
Jason Kokrak: This is a recording…Here’s how Kokrak had played to start 2013: 72nd, T8, WD, MC, MC, 79th, MC and MC his last time out. He was ninth this week and could have been better except for a double on No. 17 on Saturday and another double on “The Ball Washer”, No. 18, on Sunday. He hits it a mile but he had ONE round in the 60s in his last 13 entering this week.
Brendon de Jonge: If birdies are the order of the day, de Jonge is usually sniffing around the top 10. He made seven of them on Sunday to post 66 and hit the top 10 for the second time this year. He should be on your season-long games every year because he plays an average of 30 events a season over the last three years. This year, he’s 16th in the all-around ranking already.
Charles Howell III: Another week, another mention in the wrap-up column as CH III hits the top 10 for the fourth time this year. His steady play began last fall at the Frys.com and has continued through the first three months of 2013. His best round of the week, 66 on Sunday, shot him into the top 10. He only made two bogeys on the weekend and none of them were on Sunday. It’s hard to root against this guy and he’s rewarded those of you that had faith in him again this year.
Keegan Bradley: He was just two back entering Sunday so there was good reason to believe he would be in the thick of it come the end of play. While D.A. Points was making birdies, Bradley struggled out of the gate playing the first 11 holes Sunday three-over-par. He rallied nicely by making birds on five of his last seven to hit the top 10 just like all of us expected him to do. I always like a guy who doesn’t mail it in on Sunday and keeps grinding. Bradley fits that bill.
Lee Westwood: He’s a class player who always plays well in Houston so to see him finish in the top 10 should surprise nobody. The last three years he’s played quite well here and even better at the Masters. I saw nothing this week that would allow me to believe this year will be different. His short game getting better and better and this week off will allow his irons to get tuned in as well.
Louis Oosthuizen: Speaking of tuning it in at the right time of year, 2012 Masters runner-up Oosthuizen has been nothing short of miserable on TOUR this year before his T10 today. In three stroke play events on U.S. soil he’s finished MC, T33 and MC. His ball-striking looks to be warming up and his short game was decent was well as he only carded five bogeys on the week. Fairways and greens are never the problem so if he can get the putter rolling, there’s no reason to believe he can’t make noise on Magnolia Lane again this year.
Bill Haas: The 54-hole co-leader had a rough one on Sunday but still hit the top 10 for the fifth time in nine events this year. He’s playing like he has a child due in May and if you haven’t been on him, you need to hurry up and do so! The only thing that bums you out about Haas is his Sunday scoring record. In six rounds on Sunday, he’s broken 71 once. He now leads the TOUR in top 10 finishes in 2013 though.
“Hey, what ever happened to…”
I take a look back at what happened to the chalk
Rory McIlroy: Once he got to the green, he made everything but sometimes the scenic route can knock you back. After finishing with 65 at Doral, there was a big anticipation to see what McIlroy would bring to the table this week. His play was solid, but not spectacular, and he said after his birdie-birdie finish on Sunday that he just needed more reps to get into the groove. He’s playing next week at Valero so we’ll see how close he is before heading to Augusta.
Phil Mickelson: Another typical Mickelson week on TOUR again this week as he opened 72-71 with a new putting grip and putter grip. He figured it out by the weekend as he fired 67-68 (including a double) on the weekend to finish T16. He also told anyone who would listen that he has a special club that he’s waiting to break out for Augusta. Sure! Why the hell not! See, this is why he gets his own special place in the preview column!
Steve Stricker: Maybe giving all those putting lessons finally wore him out. This was his first start of the year where he finished outside of the top five. He opened with 73, his first round over par of 2013. It was bound to happen sometime. He backed it up with rounds of 68-71-71 just to remind you he’s not too bad at this. T38.
Jimmy Walker: Just go look at his four scorecards for the week at pgatour.com. There. At least I don’t have to worry about which week I’m going to be using him in my one-and-done…T50.
Brandt Snedeker: His 74-71 wasn’t good enough to make the cut but his history at this track would suggest we shouldn’t be surprised. It doesn’t sound like he has any lingering issues and should be ready to go for Augusta.
Hunter Mahan: The defending champ never caught fire and got it moving as he matched Snedeker with 74-71.
Thorbjorn Olesen: He was injured in a car accident Wednesday evening after our chat. He gave it a go on Thursday, firing 82, before WD on Friday. That’s just plain unlucky if you were playing/backing him this week.
Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a live chat Wednesday at NOON ET at Rotoworld.com. We will be breaking down the fields at the Valero Texas Open and answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter.