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 two-year exemption on tour. 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.
Points closed with a 6-under 66 to finish at 16-under 272, the final putt helping him avoid a playoff with Henrik Stenson and Billy Horschel.
Masters field set
Henrik Stenson, who eight months ago was No. 133 in the world, closed with a 6-under 66 in the Houston Open to finish in a tie for second and qualify for the Masters by getting into the top 50 in the world.
On the other side of the Atlantic, Marcel Siem of Germany won the Hassan Trophy in Morocco. That moved him to the cusp of the top 50, but Siem fell short when Russell Henley closed with a 68 at the Houston Open to tie for 45th, just enough to earn points and stay a fraction of a point ahead of Siem, who went from No. 72 to No. 51. Henley already is in the Masters from winning the Sony Open.
Fredrik Jacobson of Sweden and Richard Sterne of South Africa got into the Masters by being in the top 50. Neither played this week.