D.A. Points is not a household name outside of mother Mary Jo Points' house, but that likely suffices for a man who is unabashedly a mama's boy and one who seems destined to have a good career, but not a great one.
It is our loss, perhaps, for the more one sees of Points, the more likely they would be to root for him.
"Thank you for staying," he said to the crowd only seconds after holing a 13-foot par-saving putt to win the Shell Houston Open Sunday evening, following a two-hour weather delay. "Thank you for staying," he said again. "Happy Easter."
This was not unprecedented. At the Greenbrier Classic in the summer of 2010, Points missed a short par putt on the last hole that did not cost him a victory, but cost him $72,000. Rather than lament his miscue, he turned to the crowd and said, "Thank you for coming."
This is evidence of the influence his mother, Mary Jo Points, has had on him. He remembers his manners. More evidence: When he played in the Masters for the first time in 2011, Points asked his mother to caddie for him in the Par 3 Contest. "I cried," Mary Jo told Greg Stewart of the Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star, once the hometown newspaper of the Points family. "I went over to him, hugging him and crying, and thought, 'Oh, my land, I can't believe I really get to do this.' This is something that was on my bucket list."
Mary Jo again became a focal point last week in Houston, when Points resurrected an old Ping Anser putter that had belonged to her. "I pulled it out of my mom's bag when I was probably 11, 12 years old," he said earlier in the week. "It's a great putter. I won a couple of state amateurs with it in Illinois."
He used it off and on as a professional, too, though as often happens when a putter begins to misbehave, it was consigned to the garage, joining a host of other shelved putters.
"I brought it with me this week because I just had been putting so bad," he said. "I thought maybe I'll pull this old putter out of the garage and maybe it will have some magic in it."
Points, 36, had missed the cut in seven of nine starts this year and in the other two finished no better than 63rd. But Mom's old Ping putter indeed proved the Anser. He opened the tournament with a 64 and closed it with a 66 that included that 13-foot par putt to win.
The victory was the second for Points, who two years ago won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, with Bill Murray as his amateur partner. The highlight that viewers likely took away from that was the comically inadequate attempt at a chest bump with Murray after holing a wedge shot for eagle at the par-5 14th hole.
Points provides reasons to smile, maybe none better than his obvious affection for a mother whose bucket list became shorter when she donned the familiar white overalls and looped for her son at Augusta.
But while Dufner couldn't have looked more miserable doing a bit of charity, what the story doesn't mention is that this is basically how he always looks. Here, we analyze the "different" looks Dufner exhibits during a variety of situations.
Dufner hitting a great shot:
Dufner hitting a terrible shot:
Dufner cracking a really funny joke:
Dufner answering questions at a press conference:
Dufner winning his first ever PGA Tour event last year in New Orleans. Go crazy, Jason!
Dufner loosening up:
Dufner getting the most pumped up he's ever been. Forgive him, it was Ryder Cup week:
Dufner holding a koala bear. Wait, where the heck did this one come from?!
"In tennis there is infinite salvation, as in Catholicism, whereas golf is Protestant and predestined."
So says Dexter, an Episcopal minister who runs a New England prep school in "The Old Boy," A.R. Gurney's 1991 drama that has been revived as an off-Broadway play. Golf doesn't factor into the storyline aside from serving as an interesting metaphor. Dexter says the above quote after another character, Harriet, says, "In tennis, every game, every point is a new chance. As opposed to golf where if you make a mistake on the first hole you carry it with you throughout the round."
In typical Gurney fashion, that statement has a double meaning. Harriet is the controlling, divorced mother of Perry, a shy teenager who resists going to Episcopal school. While she desperately wants her son to love tennis, he's instead drawn to art, the theater and opera music. He eventually comes out as being gay and succumbs to AIDS. A disgraced Harriet pays everyone to cover up her son's cause of death, saying instead that he accidentally overdosed.
In the same way that tennis absolves imperfections and allows people to escape from their mistakes, Harriet wanted Perry to move past his attraction to men. She'd known all along he was gay, and she wanted him to leave that behind and move onto the next match. But he seemed stuck on a golf course, where his "flawed" sexual feelings haunted him throughout his life. While he wanted nothing more than to ignore that double bogey he made early on, he was eventually forced to face it and yielded to it at the end of his round.
Gurney's depiction of golf isn't far off, though he clearly doesn't know about match play.
"Remember when people thought I was washed up?" (Photo: Getty Images)
Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we wish world rankings existed in every day life. You know, so we could get some credit for some of the stuff we're good at. Wielding a remote control from the couch during a busy weekend of sports? Nobody better. Finding free food around the office? Second only to our boss. Writing a weekly golf column that includes fantasy advice and the latest Paulina Gretzky news? We have to be in the top 10. In any matter, we're happy for Tiger Woods being back on top at what he does best. Now where's that delicious scent I smell coming from. . .
Tiger Woods. With his latest triumph at Bay Hill, Woods has now won a remarkable 77 times on the PGA Tour. To put that in perspective, that's 62(!) more wins than his friend Fred Couples has won during his HALL OF FAME career. Tiger now has as many wins at Bay Hill as big-name guys like Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott and Lee Janzen have on tour in their lifetimes. We could go on and on, but you get the point. It's Woods' world and we should all just be thankful we're allowed to wear red shirts on the course.
Arnold Palmer. Usually, we have to be creative to include a picture of a pretty lady, but not this week. Yep, thanks to the King's meeting with Kate Upton, showing a photo of the supermodel is completely justified. And when he's not hosting tournaments and kissing beautiful women who are a quarter his age, the 83-year-old is filming awesome commercials in which he is beating up bad guys. What a legend. Speaking of said awesome commercial, how about that timing?
Florida. The Florida Swing gave us two Tiger Woods wins and the state has also created the most buzz during March Madness. Florida and Miami were expected to make the Sweet 16, but Florida Gulf Coast University -- a school 99 percent of the country had never heard of until it upset Georgetown in its first-ever NCAA tournament game -- has unexpectedly joined the party. Speaking of unexpected, FGCU's coach has a supermodel wife. True story.
Beatriz Recari. Speaking of lovely ladies, Recari topped I.K. Kim at the LPGA Kia Classic in a playoff prompting an emotional celebration. We were celebrating, too, since it gave us a reason to link to GolfDigest.com's "Hottest Golfer" competition from 2011. And that's never a bad thing.
Phil Mickelson. A Friday 79 that included a four-putt from five feet was bad enough, but Lefty sounded whiney with his post-round comments concerning the PGA Tour's schedule leading up to the first major of the year. "I've got to make some adjustments, just because the tournaments before the majors are not helping us at all get ready," he said. While we respect that different players have different routines, keep in mind that Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods never even play the week before a major. They've done pretty well.
Rib injuries. Remember Brandt Snedeker? The PGA Tour's early Player of the Year candidate before Tiger reverted to old Tiger? Well, he returned this week after sitting out for more than a month with sore ribs and it wasn't pretty. A pair of 76s left him watching the tournament from home over the weekend. Bottom line: Rib injuries are no joke.
Lee Westwood. The man who knocked Woods from his top spot in the world ranking in October 2010 continued his lackluster play with a final-round 75 at Bay Hill to finish T-63. So far, his best performance of 2013 came when he appeared on "Feherty."
The PGA Tour heads to Texas for the Shell Houston Open, aka that tournament that a bunch of golfers play in because they think it's a good tuneup for the Masters.
Random tournament fact: Anthony Kim won this event just three years ago. Has anyone even seen him lately? Ummm, that's actually a serious question. Is there an official "missing golfer report" we need to fill out? Let us know you're OK, AK. . .
WEEKLY YAHOO! FANTASY LINEUP
Last week we told you to take Tiger Woods. You're welcome. OK, so that advice was about as obvious as instructing someone to look both ways before crossing the street, but we'll still give ourselves a pat on the back. Here's who we like this week:
Starters -- (A-List): Phil Mickelson. Lefty is coming off a rough week, but that should motivate him even more to put up a good performance before he heads to Augusta. That shouldn't be too much of a problem at an event he's won and finished T-4 in the past two years.
(B-List): Keegan Bradley. That other guy who wears red on Sundays is close to getting back in the winner's circle. His last three events? A T-4, solo 7th, and T-3.
(B-List): Louis Oosthuizen. The South African started his climb back up the world rankings here last year when he finished third and then runner-up at the Masters the following week.
(C-List): Jordan Spieth. The 19-year-old has played so well he's earned a special temporary membership on the PGA Tour. The native Texan would love to show off in front of a home crowd this week.
Bench -- Rory McIlroy, Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker and Lee Westwood.
PICTURE OF THE WEEK (NOT INVOLVING ARNIE AND KATE UPTON)
So much for those rumors of Rory McIlroy and Caroline Wozniacki having relationship problems. The two were back in full "Wozilroy" mode this past week, (Is that Ian Poulter at the prime rib station in the background?) with Wozniacki putting on a curly-haired wig to look like her boyfriend. We also noticed in other pictures that the taller Wozniacki seems to be staying away from wearing high heels when the two are in public together. Aw, how cute.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
-- Anthony Kim will win a PGA Tour event this year: 1,000-to-1 odds
-- Coach K will spend most of Duke's next game complaining to the refs: LOCK
-- Phil Mickelson will also find something to complain about: LOCK
This is just the latest example of the modern golfer being more athletic. Of course, that was a lot of effort to go through just for him to withdraw a couple holes later.
THIS AND THAT
Days after Yani Tseng lost her No. 1 ranking, she was forced to withdraw at the Kia Classic as the defending champ after oversleeping and missing her pro-am tee time. And you thought you and your busted bracket had a bad week. . . . Rory McIlroy took a little heat for skipping Arnold Palmer's event again (he's never played in it). Of course, it's a little tougher to criticize the 23-year-old's schedule when he'll make a trip to Haiti for a humanitarian mission next week. . . . These new "triple chocolate" Chips Deluxe cookies (above) from Keebler are a GAME CHANGER.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Does anyone really care about the Tavistock Cup?
Did Tiger Woods wear the same awesome red shirt on Monday that he wore on Sunday?
Our image of professional golfers is they all take private jets from one tour stop to another, but most of them fly commercial. They show up at the airport an hour before their flight and wait in security lines alongside the rest of us. You just never hear about them.
Aaron Baddeley and his family check into their flight.
On Monday, Aaron Baddeley and Kenny Perry ambushed a Southwest flight from Orlando to Houston, handing out gift bags with Adams Golf swag, signed golf balls and even Adams golf clubs. The flight, which kicked off a partnership between Adams Golf and Southwest Airlines, commemorated Southwest as the "official airline of golf."
Travelers held "Quiet Please" signs as the stewardess gave safety instructions.
"We want to be Southwest in the golf space," says Scott Blevins, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Adams Golf. "They've positioned themselves as a fun-loving company, and our clubs, which are easy to hit, make golf fun."
Before the flight took off, the pilot said things like, "Our flight plan is a dogleg left," and, "There'd be about 3,000 par 5s from Orlando to Houston." Perry and Baddeley even had a putting competition down the aisle, which was described as "the world's fastest putting green." After Perry won, a lucky traveler on the left side of the plane won a free round-trip flight.
Baddeley putts down the aisle, with a plastic club.
This isn't the first time Southwest has provided a surprise in-flight experience. They've organized in-flight concerts (Matt Kearney, the guy who wrote the Golf Boys 2.Oh song, and American Idol winner Kris Allen have both performed), and they're planning to provide stand-up comedy and even in-flight business seminars for people traveling to TED talks.
One thing that has made Southwest golf-friendly for years? Travelers can check their golf travel bags for free. That won't be changing anytime soon.
There was a time that an athlete detested his opponent, competitive nature trumping friendship. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird might have been friends in the off season, but...
"He was always smiling," Bird said once. "And as I told Magic, my goal my whole career was trying to knock out his two front teeth. Then he wouldn't be smiling so much."
Major League Baseball, meanwhile, even has a rule that prohibits public displays of affection. It states in part that "players of opposing teams shall not fraternize at any time while in uniform."
We bring this up, because in the wake of Woods' second consecutive victory (and third of the year), this in the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Monday, there might be a faction of the PGA Tour membership wishing that golf had its own rule against fraternization.
Two weeks ago, Steve Stricker gave his friend Tiger a putting lesson on the eve of the WGC-Cadillac Championship. What, the competition might be asking, was he thinking, a few weeks ahead of Augusta?
Woods' putting has been brilliant since, notably in Saturday's third round, when he had 18 putts inside 20 feet and made 17 of them, maybe "one of his top 10 putting rounds ever," NBC's Johnny Miller said.
He was locked in with the putter again in the final round on Monday, to wit the pivotal 27-foot birdie putt he poured in on top of Rickie Fowler's 38-foot birdie putt to maintain a three-stroke lead at the 12th hole at Bay Hill in Orlando.
"His putting is better than a machine," Miller said. "I've never seen anything quite like it. At Doral he had 100 putts for 72 holes, the least he's ever had. So he's in a total crazy time with his putting."
Whatever his other merits as a golfer, his putting prowess has been the linchpin to his greatness. Greg Norman once called Woods the "the best clutch putter I've ever seen." Paul Azinger wrote on Twitter that "there was never a better putter on the face of the earth as @TigerWoods."
The popular perception is that Tiger is again the dominating player he once was; the evidence cited are three victories in four stroke-play starts on the PGA Tour, his having regained the No. 1 spot in the World Ranking, and the return of his marksmanship on the greens. But here's where we bring out the caution flag: None of it matters until and unless he begins winning majors again.
"The Masters is so important for him," Miller said. "He needs a major. The more this goes on the tougher it is to get the next one."
Woods, 37, remains stuck on 14 majors, four short of equaling Jack Nicklaus' record, and it's coming up on five years since he last won one.
But the likelihood of his extending this streak much longer does seem remote. Woods surely will take with him to Augusta more confidence than he's had heading into a major than at any time in the last five years.
And for this, at least in part, the rest of the field has Stricker to thank.
Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer have combined for 21 majors in their illustrious careers. Apparently, the two of them make quite a tag team in a brawl as well.
In a new commercial for Woods' video game, EA Sports' Tiger Woods PGA Tour '14, Woods and Palmer are confronted by a gang looking to steal their expansive trophy collection. Let's just say things do not go well for the gang.
Check out Woods, Palmer and a late appearance by Lee Trevino in a fight sequence that would make Jackie Chan proud:
This is the second straight year, EA Sports has gone with a fight theme. Last year, Woods took on NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal in a martial arts showdown. Knowing now how Arnie can throw down, it appears Shaq got off easy.
Even when not playing, Rory McIlroy (shown watching girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki play a tennis match Thursday in Key Biscayne, Fla.) is a topic of conversation. However, it wasn't just that McIlroy took a week off. He took a pass on the Arnold Palmer Invitational and when you get an invite from The King, people expect you to show -- among them, Palmer.
"Frankly, I thought he was going to play," said Palmer. "I was as surprised as a lot of people when he decided he was not going to play."
Graeme McDowell, however, backed his fellow Ulsterman. "I don't think he is disrespecting [Palmer]," said McDowell. "It's Arnold's tournament, and he's an icon of our sport, but we all know what schedules are all about."
McDowell referenced his own experience with Jack Nicklaus' Memorial tournament, saying he was "embarrassed" about not playing, but it was merely a scheduling issue.
"I feel for guys like Rory who are in the spotlight," McDowell continued. "But it's a 50-50 one. The guys want to be here, and they want to respect the legends and traditions of the sport. But it's hard to play every week."
As McIlroy found out, sometimes it's hard not playing too.