HUMBLE, Texas – D.A. Points can always find a ray of light in the darkest clouds.
He arrived at the Houston Open having failed to break 70 in his last nine rounds on the PGA Tour. He had made only two cuts in nine tournaments this year, both times finishing at the bottom of the pack. All that changed Sunday, even after a final round most appropriately delayed by thunderstorms.
Points returned from the long delay by making four pars, and the last one from just outside 12 feet gave him a one-shot victory in the Houston Open.
It also provided another 2-year exemption on tour. The former University of Illinois standout gets to start next year in Hawaii.
And he’s on his way back to Augusta National for the Masters.
“I never count myself out,” Points said. “I never just chalk it up like, ‘Oh, this year is over with.’ I’ve never felt like that. I was just grinding, just trying to wait and try to find that one thing that like, ‘Boom! There it is.’ And there I go. Fortunately, it was this week, and I capitalized on it.”
He made it hard on himself in a final round at Redstone, where a dozen guys felt as if they had a chance to win on the back nine. Only in the final hour did Points seize control, and then he had to work hard not to lose the lead.
A 5-iron to the 17th came up 40 yards short of his target, and he chipped up to tap-in range to take a one-shot lead to the tough 18th. He hit a hybrid from 231 yards that nearly went into the bunker, leaving another long chip. This one came up shorter than he wanted, but the putt was true.
“I’ve been having a really tough year,” Points said. “To have a putt to win, you want that starting out every week. I would have liked for it to have been closer.”
Points closed with a 6-under 66, the final putt helping him avoid a playoff with Masters-bound Henrik Stenson and Billy Horschel.
Stenson birdied his last two holes for a 66 before the storms rolled across Houston, and while he came up one shot short, he moved up to No. 42 in the world ranking to earn an invitation to the Masters. Horschel was on the 18th tee when play was halted, and then had to wait some more for his turn to hit on the tough driving hole. He split the middle, found the green and two-putted for par to join Stenson in the clubhouse lead.
They waited around for a playoff that wasn’t necessary when Points saved par on his last two holes.
Points, who finished at 16-under 272, picked up his second PGA Tour victory, and this time he had to supply his own comic relief. He won two years ago with actor Bill Murray as his partner in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. When the tension mounted, Points flashed his caddie an exaggerated smile to help keep it all in perspective.
It worked, and now they can smile all the way to Augusta.
“I never not think it’s on my radar,” Points said of his last-minute entry to the Masters. “I want to win. I want to win more than once. I want to have the opportunity to win majors, and win majors. I want to play in Ryder Cups and Presidents Cup. These are things I want to do, and I know I’m capable of doing.”