D.A. Points wins the Shell Houston Open

Courtesy: Zimbio.com

Courtesy: Zimbio.com

D.A. Points outlasted the field and more terrible weather on Sunday night to capture the 2013 Shell Houston Open by one stroke over Billy Horschel and Henrik Stenson. It’s the first win for Points since he was victorious at the 2011 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, making him exempt for not only the Masters in two weeks at Augusta, but the win also grants him his PGA Tour card for the next two seasons.
 
What happened
 
Scoring conditions weren’t overly difficult at Redstone on Sunday, with only two players inside the top-45 shooting above par, and with nearly 20 players within two shots of the lead held by Stewart Cink and Bill Haas, the potential for a shootout was high. Dustin Johnson was the first to post a number, getting into the clubhouse at 14-under par, but he knew that wouldn’t be good enough, mentioning to Steve Sands after the round that he thought there was a lower number out there with the way the course was set up. Stenson was able to finish out before the thunderstorms rolled in, getting to 15-under par and securing his spot in the Masters in a couple of weeks based on the Official World Golf Rankings.  With the storm coming in, players were waived off the course and stayed in the clubhouse for almost two and half hours before a 7:30 PM ET restart commenced and Points, who had already gotten to 16-under par, simply played out the rest of his round with four pars which was good enough to win by one.
 
Final Leaderboard

  • 1. D.A. Points -16
  • T2. Henrik Stenson -15
  • T2. Billy Horschel -15
  • T4. Dustin Johnson -14
  • T4. Ben Crane -14

What the victory means for Points
 
As I mentioned above, Points is now exempt on the PGA Tour for two years, and will get into the Masters in two weeks at Augusta by virtue of this win. For a guy like Points, who now has two PGA Tour wins, that first exemption means a whole lot, even more so than getting into the Masters. Points had only made two of nine cuts to start his season, and made very little money because of it, so just having the security of knowing that he’ll be able to go out and play for the next two years is huge for him. His exemption for winning the AT&T in 2011 would have expired at the end of this season.
 
McIlroy will play next week in Texas
 
The biggest news of the week came out of Rory McIlroy’s camp, as the world number two decided to enter the field at next week’s Valero Texas Open. PGA Tour rules state that you must announce your intention to enter events by the Friday prior, which is when caddie J.P. Fitzgerald suggested that McIlroy should consider entering the event, saying that a couple more rounds should leave them in a much better spot heading into the Masters. McIlroy said a few weeks ago at the Cadillac that he didn’t think he’d add events to his schedule prior to the Masters, but obviously Fitzgerald was able to change his mind. An extra four rounds certainly won’t hurt McIlroy, so it makes sense that he’d want to play next week. McIlroy was never a factor this week, firing rounds of 73-70-71-70, ending up at 4-under par, tied for 45th.
 
Weather delays
 
So far this season, the PGA Tour has had delays in seven of their fourteen events due to weather. Obviously there isn’t much they can do about that, but the one thing that could be done is the re-configuration of tee times to ensure that tournaments actually finish on time. There are a myriad of things they could do, from putting players in groups of three, to going off on split tees, which isn’t ideal for tournament conditions, but it’s better than having a Monday finish like last week, or playing in near darkness which we’ve also seen recently. They won’t come out and say this, but the only reason they ended up trying to squeeze in a finish yesterday was because there’s only one week left to qualify for the Masters, which comes by way of winning in Texas this week. For players like Steve Wheatcroft, who need to get into the tournament by playing well in the Monday qualifier, a Monday finish to the Shell would have ensured that he missed his 8:17 AM tee time.
 
The other thing the PGA Tour won’t say is that NBC and CBS, the two primary rights holders for weekend play, wouldn’t stand for moved up tee times. They’d rather take the chance that it doesn’t work out than play tape delayed coverage from the leaders teeing off at 10:00 AM ET. There really isn’t a great solution for it, but knowing that there’s a massive storm coming into the area, the PGA Tour should have done something to avoid problems.
 
Sometimes you shouldn’t even bother
 
I tipped Thorbjorn Olesen in my preview this week, but I definitely wouldn’t have if I had known his situation coming in. After an opening round 82, Olesen withdrew from the event, and tweeted the following:
 

 
Love that Olesen tried to play through it, but clearly it wasn’t the best idea. It’d be great to see him at Augusta, but I’m not overly optimistic at this point.
 
1…2…3?
 
You’d think that keeping track of your score would be an easy thing to do on the course, especially for guys who do it all the time, but apparently that’s not the case. Guys are disqualified on a pretty regular basis for signing an incorrect scorecard, assuming that they sign for a lower number than they actually scored. That wasn’t the case for Hank Kuehne this week, who actually signed for a higher score than he scored on the par-3 14th in Friday’s second round. Kuehne actually birdied the hole, but marked down a par, which gave him a 72 instead of his actual 71 and even though that doesn’t get you disqualified, the PGA Tour makes you take that higher score. Now, for a long time on Friday, that miscue looked like it was going to cost Kuehne his spot on the weekend, as he was going to miss the cut by one. He ended up missing the cut by two, but it’s still an important thing for Kuehne, as the big hitter is on his way back from a slew of injuries, and is on his major medical exemption. He’s only got two starts left to make $561,833 or he loses his card, so it’s not looking good for Kuehne.
 
Wedges are overrated anyway
 
This didn’t happen in Houston this week, but it was too good not to share. Johan Edfors was playing on the European Tour this week in Morocco, and he had a bit of a tough week, missing the cut after rounds of 76 and 74. He’s known for having a bit of a temper, and he showed that off again, as apparently he wasn’t a fan of his wedges, snapping a pair of them in frustration:
 

 
Good thing he doesn’t pay for those.
 
Other notes

  • Notables missing the cut this week: Brandt Snedeker, Branden Grace, Hunter Mahan, Michael Thompson, Retief Goosen, John Huh, Ryo Ishikawa, Bo Van Pelt, Geoff Ogilvy and Paul Casey.
  • In addition to Olesen’s WD, Erik Compton withdrew citing fatigue and illness, while Sean O’Hair pulled out with a back problem. It’s O’Hair’s second WD of the season after pulling out of the Northern Trust in the middle of February.
  • While Points got in the Masters based on his win this week, Marcel Siem ended up missing out by one ranking spot in the OWGR, despite winning in Morocco. When Stenson got to 15-under par, it basically sank Siem’s chances.
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