Points scores first win
That’s what made this Pebble Beach National Pro-Am so special.
Points grew up idolizing Bill Murray, whether it was his “Caddyshack” role as the assistant greenskeeper at Bushwood or his antics at Pebble Beach over the years. To have him as an amateur partner made this week great before it even started.
Then came Sunday, when Points holed out from 100 yards for eagle on the diabolical 14th at Pebble Beach to take the lead. That carried him to a 5-under 67 and a two-shot victory. Making it even sweeter, they won the pro-am title, a first for Murray, who now gets his name on the wall below the first tee.
This really was a Cinderella story.
“It’s a dream come true,” Points said. “To win on the PGA Tour, and especially at Pebble Beach, and especially with Bill Murray ... I don’t think I could dream this up.”
Indeed, it was surreal at times.
One shot behind and facing the scariest shot at Pebble Beach that doesn’t involve the Pacific Ocean, Points hit a gap wedge that barely cleared the bunker on the par-5 14th, landed in the first cut of rough and trickled down the slope and into the hole. He followed that with a bending, 30-foot birdie putt for a two-stroke lead that made Murray laugh because he didn’t know what else to do.
And when Points felt his greatest pressure, he had some comic relief of his own.
He faced a 6-foot par putt on the 16th hole, and when his caddie asked him how he felt, Points replied, “Not very good.” That’s when he decided to take a page from Murray. As his partner stood over a long putt, Points hollered at him, “The crowd would be really happy if you could make that.”
The gallery roared with laughter. Murray narrowly missed. More importantly, Points made his putt and sailed home with easy pars.
“It totally took me out of the moment for just enough to kind of help bring me back to life a little bit,” Points said.
Hunter Mahan shot 31 on the front nine and twice was tied for the lead on the back nine. He birdied the 17th with a tee shot inside 3 feet, then reached the par-5 18th in two. But he three-putted for par, missing a 4-foot birdie putt.
Ultimately, it didn’t matter. Mahan closed with a 66 and wound up alone in second, two shots behind.
Steve Marino, who had a one-shot lead going into the final round, never caught up after Points made his eagle from the 14th fairway. Marino missed a 12-foot birdie putt on the 16th to get within one, then slammed his driver to the turf on the 18th when his tee shot sailed into a bunker to the right.
Marino hit his third shot into the ocean and made a triple-bogey 8 that mattered only in his bank account. Not making a par to share second place was the difference of $327,200.
Tom Gillis closed with a 70 and finished along in third.
Points and Murray won the pro-am tournament by two shots. The trophy was locked up with Points’ par on the 18th when Murray announced his “big putt” that was meaningless. He then mimicked some dialogue from the “Cinderella Story” scene in Caddyshack, when Murray swatted at flowers with his scythe and imagined the former greenskeeper on the verge of winning the Masters.
“It’s in the hole!!!!”
Not quite. As the putt headed toward the cup, Murray jogged over to tap it while it was still moving, then thrust his arms in the air.
“The only chance D.A. had to win was if I could make it through the entire week without ever asking what the initials ‘D.A.’ stand for,” Murray said. “And I didn’t. And he’s the champion.”
In case he cares, they stand for Darren Andrews.
Murray also won the pro-am title in the Pebble Beach event on the Champions Tour with Scott Simpson, his longtime partner at Pebble Beach who played the straight man to Murray’s routine.
It’s not always easy playing with Murray, who constantly engages the crowd, bought ice cream bars for them on the back nine, and years ago enraged the PGA Tour brass when he flung an elderly woman into a bunker.
Some of his previous partners have quietly asked that someone else play with Murray.
Points was all too happy.
“Everybody all week kept saying, ‘You got the short end of the stick,’” Points said. “I never, ever felt that way. I tried to embrace it. He just seemed to have fun, and he taught me to go ahead and have a little more fun. And in turn, it distracted me from trying so hard. It kept me loose and having a good time with Bill.”
Is this a new tandem?
“I’m thinking of turning pro,” Murray said. “I probably won’t.”
It’s really nice to play with a gentleman. He’s a good person. He’s from Illinois. He’s Lincoln-esque in stature and unfailingly polite.”
Points showed that as he walked off the 18th green and said to the gallery, “Everyone, thank you for coming.”
He put on quite a show.
Points started the final round two shots out of the lead, stayed in range and was flawless on the back nine. His big run started with an 8-foot birdie on the 10th hole, and then came his magical run.
For the second straight year, the pivotal hole at Pebble Beach turned out to be the 14th — this time for a good score. A year ago, Paul Goydos, Bryce Molder and Alex Prugh all had a chance to win until they made 9s on the par 5.
A few groups earlier, Phil Mickelson hit a 64-degree wedge that landed a foot on the green and rolled off to the left, down the slope. Points hit a gap wedge that was perfect, because it had to be. The ball landed in the first cut of rough, hopped onto the green and had just enough spin to slow to a trickle as it dropped.
His only mistake on the back nine was the chest-pump he tried to executive with Murray. They ran toward each other, and Points began to leap as Murray was landing. It looked bad, but it was a birdie 4 on the card.
Equally important was the birdie that followed, and Points was on his way.
He won for the first time in 128 starts on the PGA Tour. This earned him $1.134 million—more than he has made in any of his previous four seasons on tour—a two-year exemption and his first trip to Masters.
Last updated: 4:19 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012