Points wins SHO thanks to mother's putter

By Jason SobelApril 1, 2013, 2:30 am

HUMBLE, Texas – I tore up the paper with my predictions after the first round. I watched favorites stumble and no-name underdogs make title runs. I sat shaking my head in disbelief, even though every tournament seems about as unpredictable as the Powerball numbers.

Just another wild week on the PGA Tour.

What, you thought I was talking college hoops?

Welcome to the “other” March Madness, as craziness and capriciousness reigned – along with the rain – at the Shell Houston Open. But the similarities didn’t stop with the fickle nature of these coinciding events.

There were bracket busters. The top-ranked player in the field, Rory McIlroy, survived and advanced, but never contended. Phil Mickelson seriously contended for only a few minutes early Sunday afternoon before getting bounced from title consideration.

There were Cinderella stories. Four players in the eventual top nine on the leaderboard have never won. And that doesn’t even include Steve Wheatcroft, whose status is so negligible that he didn’t even get off the alternate list at last week’s Web.com Tour event before Monday qualifying this week. He was such a dark horse that he made Florida Gulf Coast University look like John Wooden’s UCLA teams of the early 1970s.


Shell Houston Open: Articles, videos and photos

Highlights: Points takes second PGA Tour victory at Shell


There was mind-bending bracketology. At one point in the final round, there were 18 players within two strokes of the lead. By day’s end, nine players had led or shared that lead, a revolving door of names big and small, top seeds and upset specials.

There was a major call in an important situation by the officials. This one was a delay of game, as play was stopped because of dangerous weather conditions at 3:52 p.m. local time Sunday afternoon, with heavy rains soon enveloping the area. At one point, it appeared the Tour was doomed to a second straight Monday finish, but play continued two hours and 38 minutes later with the remaining half-dozen twosomes finishing before dark.

And in the end, there was a buzzer beater to clinch the title.

It came off the stolen putter of Mary Jo Points, whose precocious son Darren Andrew – called D.A. from the time he was born – took the Ping Anser model out of her bag back in 1987, when he was 11 years old, and had it sitting in his garage when he took it out prior to this week and put it into play.

Leading by one coming to the final hole, Points hit 3-wood to the middle of the fairway on the difficult par-4 closer, then fanned a hybrid short and right of the green. It hung precariously on the edge of a slope and from there he hit a chip to 13½ feet, with the impending putt the only thing standing between him and a second career victory.

Having struggled lately with the flat stick – any flat stick – Points sought the help of instructor Brian White on Wednesday morning based on the suggestion of fellow pro Chris Stroud. For the nominal cost of taking care of White’s change fee to catch a later flight out of town, Points received a few pointers that proved key to his week.

“He gave me a couple things, changed the putter – boom – felt great,” he reported. “The ball started rolling real tight. My hit got a little more consistent. I stopped missing putts to the left and, I mean, when I hit good putts this week, the line on my ball rolled so tight, it just looked like it was going to dive in the hole.”

Points may not have been an underdog of FGCU proportions, but he could have been analogous to Wichita State, right down to the mid-major status and “Shockers” nickname. In nine previous starts this season, he had made the cut just twice, with a best finish of T-63 at the Humana Challenge. That’s akin to a tournament team riding a big-time losing streak going into the Big Dance.

Even with little form and less momentum, Points never saw this tournament as anything but an opportunity to change that.

“I never count myself out,” he explained. “I never just chalk it up, like, oh, this year is over with. I've never, ever felt like that. I was just grinding, just trying to wait and try to find that one thing that was like – boom – there it is and there I go.”

That “one thing” was standing in front of him on the final hole, just 13½ feet for par and an unlikely victory – even if he didn’t view it that way. Downgrain and with a slight right-to-left break, Points employed the same stroke he’d been using since that lesson with White on Wednesday morning. The ball started right at the cup and never left its line, dropping in for the dramatic buzzer beater.

It was the culmination of a week that can only be described as crazier and more capricious than anything we’ve seen recently on the hardwood.

From bracket busters to Cinderella stories, from a logjam of title contenders to the lone figure of D.A. Points left standing with his mother’s stolen putter in his hands, this tournament was more unpredictable than that other tournament referred to as March Madness.

And even better: This one actually finished in March.

Vegas lists Woods at 20-1 to win a major in 2018

By Will GrayNovember 22, 2017, 12:53 pm

He hasn't hit a competitive shot in nearly a year, but that hasn't stopped one Las Vegas outlet from listing Tiger Woods among the favorites to win a major in 2018.

The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook published betting odds this week on dozens of players to win any of the four majors next year. Leading the pack were Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth at 3/2, with Rory McIlroy next. But not far behind was Woods, who has been sidelined since February because of a back injury but was listed at 20/1.

Woods will make his much-anticipated return next week at the Hero World Challenge, and next month he will turn 42. Next summer will mark the 10-year anniversary of his last major championship victory, a sudden-death playoff win over Rocco Mediate at the 2008 U.S. Open.

Here's a look at the odds for several marquee players on winning any of the four biggest events in golf next year:

3/2: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth

5/2: Rory McIlroy

7/2: Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day

9/2: Justin Rose

5/1: Brooks Koepka

15/2: Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey

10/1: Adam Scott

12/1: Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Marc Leishman, Thomas Pieters, Patrick Reed

15/1: Daniel Berger, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Patrick Cantlay, Branden Grace, Kevin Kisner, Alex Noren, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson

20/1: Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Tony Finau, Martin Kaymer

25/1: Ryan Moore, Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Lee Westwood, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Chappell, Bryson DeChambeau, Bill Haas, Jason Dufner, Charley Hoffman

30/1: Pat Perez, Gary Woodland, Bernd Wiesberger, Brian Harman, Padraig Harrington, Emiliano Grillo, Ross Fisher, Si Woo Kim, J.B. Holmes

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


FALLING

J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.