- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
The Masters doesn't start until the back nine on Sunday. Or so they say. Upon further review, the Masters doesn't start until the back nine on Sunday ... in Humble, Texas.
The Shell Houston Open was the last chance for Masters hopefuls to make it to Augusta by way of the top 50 in the World Golf Ranking. After the action at Redstone Golf Club, the Masters has two new invitees, D.A. Points and Henrik Stenson.
Points, who had made only two of nine cuts in 2013, survived a final-day shootout, a two-hour rain delay and nerve-testing par saves on the last two holes to finish at 16-under 272, a shot ahead of Stenson and Billy Horschel. In doing so, Points punched his Masters ticket for the second time. He played his way into the field in 2011 by winning the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-am with Bill Murray as his amateur partner but missed the cut. Points will head to Augusta with a hot putter. He credited his work with the flat stick to a lesson with Lamar golf coach Brian White and a switch to an old Ping Anser, which Points borrowed from his mother.
Stenson's emergence wasn't quite as sudden, but it was just as dramatic. After winning the 2007 Accenture Match Play and the 2009 Players Championship, the tall, lean Swede reached No. 4 in the World Ranking. His game subsequently disappeared; he plummeted out of the top 200.
But he started to rebound this year, and at Bay Hill he finished eighth, edging to 53rd in the world. He needed to finish 13th or better in Houston to break into the top 50, and he sprinted home with birdies on four of the last five holes, including the tough two closing holes.
Who's not going to Augusta? Charles Howell III. The Augusta native closed with 66, but that only got him into a tie for 10th, which moved him to 54th in the world. He needed to finish fourth or better. "It was a good effort, but good efforts don't get that invitation to Augusta," said Howell. "I'd love to be there. So would 300 million other golfers. I'm going to watch on TV."
At the very least, he'll watch the back nine on Sunday.