It took a little more time than expected due to a long weather delay, but D.A. Points was up to the task, winning his second career PGA Tour title behind an 6-under 66 for a one-shot victory, earning a spot in the Masters as well.
Here are 5 Things to take away from Points’ win:
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1. TAKING THE POINTS: To say this victory came out of nowhere would be an understatement for D.A. Points.
Having made only two cuts in nine Tour events in 2013, Points had earned just $24,048 this season.
Points also hadn’t had much success at Redstone GC, missing the cut in 2012, T-60 in 2011, T-62 in 2010, T-14 in 2009 and T-70 in 2006.
But bogey-free play during his final 22 holes allowed Points to hold off an army of contenders, including Billy Horschel and Henrik Stenson, who finished at 15 under with 6-under 66s Sunday.
His bogey-free streak was tested on the 72nd hole, but he nailed a 15-footer for par to clinch the victory and set off a hearty celebration.
“I was just thinking, ‘Whatever happens, happens.’ It’s been a really tough year, tough starting out,” said Points, the 16th consecutive American player to win on Tour. “But to have a putt to win, you want that starting out every week – I would have liked it to be a little closer, but, you know, I’ve been putting well.”
Points’ last Tour victory came at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February 2011. He found a correlation to his win at Pebble: that in Sunday’s victory, he needed big shots down the stretch.
“Getting up and down on 17, up and down on 18 . . . It was special,” said Points, who will make his second trip to Augusta National.
Desperate to change his luck before Houston, he brought along an old putter he once borrowed from his mother that’s been sitting in his garage since about 2005. He hardly missed with it in an opening 64 and then sank the biggest putt of his career on Sunday.
“I think mom is just fine with me having it,” he said.
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2. MICKELSON SURGES, EBBS: Phil Mickelson got within a shot of the lead early in his round Sunday – and provided excitement when he birdied his first four holes to start his day.
From there, things settled down with 8 pars in a row. Mickelson birdied again at the 13th, only to double-bogey the par-3 14th. He ended his day with a 68, something to smile about. But his finish (T-14 when play halted Sunday) surely fell short of the high expectations set by his opening stretch.
“I had a lot of fun today because I got off the a quick start, and after four holes I felt the pressure of having an opportunity to win,’’ Mickelson said, as reported by PGATour.com. “It was a fun feeling. I love playing well here. Unfortunately, I didn’t do much after that.”
Mickelson could be seen using a traditional putter grip, rather than the “claw” he had been using for some time to correct situations when he uses too much forward press on the greens.
“As long as I can stay in that same address position with the regular grip, I would prefer to do that, but I’ll have to go back and forth as my tendency is to continue to get a little too much forward press,” Mickelson said.
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3. MCILROY FINISHES STRONG: With a pair of birdies at the 18th, Rory McIlroy finished 4 under for the week, good for T-45 when play was halted – a solid result after having barely made the cut Friday.
McIlroy went under par in three of the week’s four rounds, but never broke 70. He’ll play in next week’s Valero Texas Open, then the Masters. After skipping the two tournaments that followed his T-8 finish at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, McIlroy seemed less upset with his physical game than with his course management.
“I think the way I’ve struck the ball for the most part has been really good,” McIlroy said, as reported by PGATour.com. “I think my short game has been sharp.
“. . . I’ve 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.”
As he did at Doral, McIlroy played better during the weekend than his first two rounds. This weekend, the difference was just a two-stroke improvement, whereas he had improved by six strokes on Saturday and Sunday in the no-cut WGC event.
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4. PRIMED FOR AUGUSTA? Dustin Johnson’s season began with a bang, winning the weather-delayed Hyundai Tournament of Champions, but hadn’t been heard from much since.
A withdrawal at the Sony Open, two missed cuts and nothing better than T-33 until the WGC-Cadillac (T-12) seemed to show Johnson going in the wrong direction.
But Johnson showed signs of improvement this week, including his final-round 65 Sunday that could have been much better. Bogeys at Nos. 12 and 14 proved costly, despite a comeback eagle at the par-5 15th hole.
“I knew I was going to have to come out and do something special today if I wanted to even have a chance,” Johnson said to 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.”
Johnson did not play in the Masters in 2012 due to injury. He finished T-38 there in 2011 and 2010, and T-30 in 2009.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Play was delayed for more than 2 1/2 hours because of inclement weather, with players racing to finish their rounds after play restarted at 6:30 p.m. local time . . . A year after 10 missed cuts and two WDs in 25 starts, Boo Weekley has made eight of nine cuts in 2013, including a T-45 finish in Houston . . . Charles Howell III and Brendon de Jonge finished T-11 behind final-round, 6-under 66s . . . Only four players finished the tournament over par (Ricky Barnes, Wes Short, Jr., George Coetzee and Cameron Percy).
– The Associated Press contributed to this report