Tue, Apr 02, 2013 - Page 19 News List

Points holds nerve to win Houston and Masters bid

Reuters

D.A. Points celebrates his par putt on the 18th green during the final round of the Shell Houston Open at the Redstone Golf Club on Sunday in Humble, Texas.

Photo: AFP

The US’ D.A. Points held his nerve through a late weather delay to claim a one-shot victory at the Shell Houston Open on Sunday in Humble, Texas, and earn a ticket to the Masters.

Clinging to a one-shot advantage over clubhouse leader Henrik Stenson with four holes to play, Points had his momentum interrupted when a storm swept across the Redstone Golf Club and forced the evacuation of the course.

When play resumed after nearly three hours, Points picked up where he left off by carding four consecutive pars to return a bogey-free six-under 66 for a winning total of 16-under 272, one shot clear of Swede Stenson (66) and compatriot Billy Horschel (66).

Dustin Johnson (65) and Ben Crane (68) finished two shots back on 14-under 274.

It was the second career PGA Tour win for Points, who failed to make the cut in seven of nine starts this season and whose best previous finish was a tie for 63rd.

“I’ve been having a really tough year,” Points said. “To have a putt to win, you want that starting out every week. I would have liked for it to have been closer.”

After a bogey at the 13th, Stenson’s shot at the title appeared to disappear, but the Swede produced a sizzling finish with four birdies over his final five holes, including the 17th and 18th to keep the pressure on Points.

However, Points did not crack, rolling in a nerve-jangling 13-foot par putt at the last with a putter he borrowed from his mother to clinch the victory.

Phil Mickelson, the 2011 Houston winner, started five back of the leaders and looked like he might take a run at the title after opening with four consecutive birdies.

However, the three-time Masters champion’s charge quickly ran out of steam and eight straight pars followed by two birdies and a double-bogey left him on four-under 68, six shots behind Points.

Former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy was not a factor either, finishing 12 shots off the pace, but the Northern Irishman did wrap up his week in style by dropping birdies on his closing two holes for a two-under 70.

TROPHEE HASSAN II

AFP, HOUSTON, Texas

and AGADIR, Morocco

Henrik Stenson’s share of second place at the Houston Open was enough to secure his eighth straight Masters berth on Sunday, but a European tour title left Marcel Siem missing out on the upcoming Masters in Augusta, Georgia.

Germany’s Siem captured the European Tour’s Hassan II Trophy in Morocco on Sunday and had moved to 49th in the projected world rankings list after his third Race to a Dubai victory — just inside the top-50 needed to claim a spot in the first major championship of the year.

However, Siem’s dream of playing at the Augusta National was undone thanks to the results in Texas.

A six-under-par 66 for Stenson left him tied for second behind Houston Open winner Points, but that was enough to assure the Swede jumped from 53rd in the world rankings to inside the top 50.

American Russell Hendley, who only needed a top-53 showing in Houston to reach 50th in the world, shared 45th after a final-round 68, meaning that he moved to 50th and bumped Siem to 51st.

Siem, the defending French Open champion, started the day four clear, but bogeyed the first and was caught when Finland’s Mikko Ilonen, who had suffered food poisoning overnight, had a hat-trick of gains from the second.

Siem responded with birdies at the fifth and seventh, but Ilonen matched it to remain within touching distance.

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