Points belies recent form with Houston win
American books his place in the Masters with unlikely Redstone win, McIlroy pleased with productive week
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland watches his second shot on the eighth hole during the final round of the Shell Houston Open at the Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Texas. Photograph: Scott Halleran/Getty Images
DA Points found form out of nowhere to claim victory at the Shell Houston Open by a shot and book his place at the Masters.
Points had missed three cuts in a row and seven of his last nine heading into the Texas event, but hit his stride straight away, claiming the lead after the first round. And he stayed in contention throughout the week, carding a six-under-par 66, including a pressure putt on the 18th, to hold off Henrik Stenson and Billy Horschel and win by one stroke on 16 under.
“It’s been a realy tough year, a tough start,” he said. “To have a putt to win — you want that starting out every week. I would have liked it to be a little closer, but I’ve been putting really well.”
Points came out on top after a dramatic day, which saw a host of players move in and out of contention and was extended because of a rain delay late on. Stewart Cink and Bill Haas went into the day as joint leaders, but neither in the end was a serious contender.
Haas dropped two shots on the front nine and in the end finished level par for his final round, while Cink could muster only three birdies. An eagle on the last would have seen him into a play-off with Points, but he found sand and ended up with a bogey to sit in a share of sixth on 13 under.
Among the other contenders, Stenson and Horschel hit contrasting 66s and were left to see if Points would slip up on the final hole. Stenson needed four birdies in his last five holes to hit the mark, while Horschel could not find the shot he needed at the back end of the course, parring each of the last five holes.
The good news for Stenson was that his performance was enough to earn him a place in the world’s top 50 and an invitation to the Masters. Adding to the drama was a near three-hour delay in play, with only a handful of players still out on course and Stenson the clubhouse leader, caused by a downpour in Houston.
Points held his nerve, though, saving par on each of his last two holes using a putter he revealed earlier in the week was one he had taken from his mother when he was younger and had refurbished this week in an attempt to improve his play on the greens.
“I was firing on all cycliners,” he said. “I’m proud of myself that the rain delay didn’t put a stop to that.”
Dustin Johnson produced the round of the day, a seven-under 65, to finish in a share of fourth on 14 under, alongside Ben Crane, while a 67 saw Brian Davis finish as the leading Briton on 13 under, two strokes aherad of compatriot Lee Westwood.
Rory McIlroy managed a third straight under-par round to finish four under overall. He told www.pgatour.com: “[There are] lot of positives to take from it. I’ve learned a few things as well that I can bring into next week and obviously looking ahead to Augusta, too.
“It’s been a productive week.”