Points overcomes range issues, shoots 67

D.A. Points reacts after making a birdie on the 14th hole during the second round of the PGA Championship golf tournament Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga.

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From the vault: Check out D.A. Points' swing from his session with Golfweek.

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. - There is no mistaking D.A. Points’ golf ball this week. He scribbles his daughter’s initials above the Titleist logo. He draws orange and blue lines for the University of Illinois, his alma mater. And he writes little notes to himself:

I am a solid putter

I trust my stroke

Not perfect, but effective

Friday at the PGA Championship, on a day when Atlanta Athletic Club yielded few low scores, Points’ message was most apt: Keep it stress-free.

That wasn’t exactly the case “about 18 minutes” before his 9 a.m. tee time Friday, when he was finishing his warm-up on the range. “I was hitting it crooked,” Points, 34, said. “I was making what I felt like good swings, and they were just big bananas (slices) to the right.”

His left wrist was “cuppy.” He was coming underneath on his downswing, his shoulders were flying open, his clubface was wide-open at impact. Those issues were soon resolved, albeit with little time to spare.

Five hours later, you can throw another Midwesterner into the mix here at the PGA Championship. Points dropped a shot on the final hole but fired a 3-under 67 to move into a tie for third, at 4-under 136, as players in the afternoon wave, including leader Steve Stricker, get their second round under way.

“This feels great,” Points said, “but it’s only Friday. It’s going to feel a lot better when it’s Sunday and I’m talking to you guys.”

In February, Points won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (alongside comedian/boyhood idol Bill Murray) for his first Tour title. Since then, he has missed five cuts while failing to finish better than 19th (last week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational).

“I’ve been waiting to get back on an upturn and back on that good stretch,” he said.

That he’s found it this week at the PGA should come as a slight surprise. In five career majors starts, Points has three missed cuts, with a T-69 (2008 U.S. Open) and a T-16 (2010 PGA). Now that he’s a PGA Tour winner, however, Points was asked if he places any more expectations on himself to perform in the biggest events.

“I definitely feel like after getting that win I should raise my expectations a little bit and want more out of my game,” he said.

Well, he can’t get much more out of his first 36 holes here in Atlanta: 24 of 28 fairways, 30 of 36 greens.

Sounds pretty, ahem, stress-free.

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