D.A. Points holed a 15-foot par putt on the 72nd hole to lock up his second career win on the PGA TOUR. Talk about coming out of nowhere. Points had missed seven cuts in nine events on tour this season. His made cuts were finishes of T63 (at the Humana Challenge) and T68 (at the Honda Classic). To say Points was struggling in 2013 is like saying Louisville guard Kevin Ware suffered a small leg fracture in the Cardinals’ win Sunday. (Aside: if you have not seen Ware’s injury, it is akin to Joe Theismann’s infamous leg brake from 1985. If you’re dying to see it, you probably already have. If you’re squeamish or sane, don’t bother to look it up) So D.A. Points has a magic week of ballstriking and putting to earn one of the last available invitations to The Masters. And good for him. But Darren Andrew Points wasn’t the only player to punch his ticket to Augusta.
Sunday’s biggest winner, other than Points, was definitely Henrik Stenson of Sweden. He is nearing the end of a pretty remarkable comeback. The 2-time European Ryder Cupper, 2007 WGC-Match Play Champion and 2009 Players Champion had fallen outside of the top 100 in the World Rankings. Stenson even considered quitting the game altogether in 2011. But a solid final round 66 gave the Swede a T2 finish and second consecutive top 10 finish. Stenson vaulted himself from 53rd to 42nd in the world and will return to The Masters where he was 6 under through 17 holes until quadruple-bogeying the 18th.
Also securing Masters bids by finishing in the World Top 50 after the Shell Houston Open were Richard Sterne of South Africa and Stenson’s fellow Swede, Freddy Jacobson. Sterne has had a good start to the season on the European Tour (as have just about all South Africans, it seems). Jacobson is an interesting case. He did just about everything but win. “The Junkman” (soft J [yay] he’s a Swede) contended all over the West Coast and made a good run at the Northern Trust Open at Riviera. After another solid finish at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, Jacobson decided to sit out; a move intended to protect his world ranking. The gamble paid off, Jacobson finished 47th in the world after the Shell Houston Open and will be able to use his incredible short-game prowess at Augusta National.
There were also some “losers” (seems harsh, but golf is the ultimate merit-based game, right?). We’ll start with Germany’s Marcel Siem. He started last week ranked 72nd in the world, needing a win and some help from other players to move to the top 50. Siem did his part, capturing the European Tour’s Trophee Hassan II (that’s “Tro-PHEE Ha-SSAN DEUX”) in Morocco. Siem rose to 51st in the rankings and missing that Masters spot by…0.0251 points…which is small, even in the crazy-math-lab known as the Official World Golf Rankings. Others falling short were Augusta-native Charles Howell III and Geoff Ogilvy. Ogilvy was 50th coming into the week, but his play in Houston dropped him to 55th.
There is one more opportunity for players to secure a Masters Invite: win at this week’s Valero Texas Open. Both Howell and Ogilvy elected not to play in San Antonio this week, but bubble-boy Marcel Siem is. Siem received a sponsor’s exemption into the tournament. He’s my favorite, and what a story it would be: win in Morocco to fall just short of earning a spot in The Masters, then playing the next week 5,000 miles away. The only option for Siem is victory, and that’s just to earn a spot!