Fast start in Puerto Rico lifts Points

Vet­eran birdies first five holes to get his third PGA Tour win.

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS -

D.A. Points was never bet­ter at the start, and good enough at the end.

Points opened the fi­nal round of the Puerto Rico Open with five straight birdies, and then over­came a rugged stretch by sav­ing pars and pil­ing up enough birdies for a 6-un­der 66 on Sun­day and a two-shot vic­tory at Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.

It was the third PGA Tour vic­tory of his ca­reer, and felt just as sweet as when he won at Peb­ble Beach with Bill Mur­ray as his part­ner, and four years ago at the Hous­ton Open to get to the Masters.

This won’t send him to Au­gusta Na­tional be­cause it was played op­po­site a World Golf Cham­pi­onship. It was no less im­por­tant for Points, who lost his card a year ago and now has a full two-year ex­emp­tion.

“I was just re­ally proud of my­self for find­ing some way — hit­ting about as low as I’ve ever been golf-wise and find­ing my out — and then to be able to hang in there and win to­day is some­thing that I wasn’t sure if I had in me,” he said. “And I’m re­ally proud of my­self.”

Two-time U.S. Open cham­pion Retief Goosen (64), Bill Lunde (68) and for­mer U.S. Am­a­teur cham­pion Bryson DeCham­beau (67) tied for sec­ond at Coco Beach Golf and Coun­try Club.

Sam Saun­ders, one week af­ter miss­ing the cut at the first Arnold Palmer In­vi­ta­tional with­out his grand­fa­ther there as the host, closed with a 65 and tied for fifth. Also ty­ing for fifth was for­mer U.S. Am­a­teur cham­pion Peter Uih­lein, who plays the Euro­pean Tour and was in Puerto Rico on a spon­sor’s ex­emp­tion.

That sends both of them to the Hous­ton Open this week for fin­ish­ing in the top 10. Six oth­ers in the top 10 were el­i­gi­ble for the Hous­ton Open, where the win­ner gets an in­vi­ta­tion to the Masters.

Chris Stroud, with his first 54-hole lead as he tried to win his first PGA Tour event in 277 starts, closed with a 71 and fin­ished four shots be­hind.

Points closed with a birdie to fin­ish at 20-un­der 268.

“I’ve never, that I can think of, just started out with five straight birdies,” Points said. “It was just like, ‘Wow!’ I just hit in the fair­way and I hit it right at the flag and tapped it in. It was pretty fun.” And then it be­came a grind. He dropped a shot at the sixth, another at the eighth and then a third bo­gey at No. 10 when he three-putted. But he saved par at No. 11 and faced another 5-footer for par at No. 12.

“I said, ‘If I can just make this putt, I’ve got a chance to kind of get the mo­men­tum go­ing back the other way.’ And then I holed a nice putt on 13 and then I set­tled my swing down and started hit­ting it close again,” he said. “Golf is like that, right? You have highs and lows and rarely do you just play ev­ery hole per­fect. To bounce back af­ter kind of a rough stretch there, I’m re­ally proud.”

AP

D.A. Points cel­e­brates af­ter mak­ing his putt on the 18th hole to win the Puerto Rico Open.

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