They were an unlikely partnership from the start at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, at least until the player ranked No. 166 in the world and the actor who starred in “Caddyshack” and “Ghostbusters” placed their hands on the crystal trophy with the Pacific Ocean as a spectacular backdrop on Sunday.
Points won the tournament, his first on the PGA Tour. They also won the pro-am, which puts Murray’s name on the wall of winners on the rock wall below the first tee at Pebble Beach.
“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.”
There were plenty of laughs along the way, some of them by Points.
And there were a couple of shots that define victory, particularly the gap wedge from 100 yards that Points holed for an eagle on the par-5 14th at Pebble Beach—the second-toughest hole on the course—and that bending, 30-foot birdie putt on the next hole.
It added to a 5-under 67 and a two-shot victory for Points, a 34-year-old from Illinois who grew up idolizing Murray.
And it taught him a lesson he hopes he can carry forward.
Playing with Murray and all his antics were not a burden. They turned out to be a blessing.
“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.”
Murray, who has become a staple of this celebrity-rich tournament over the last few decades, turned serious in the winner’s press conference.
But only briefly.
“When we first met, I said my goal when I play is I like to have the most fun and I like to win,” Murray said. “And he said, ‘Those two things usually go together.’ And I thought that was about as solid an endorsement of where we are going this week as I could have gotten. I felt like, ‘This is cool. This could really happen.’ And it did.”
It didn’t come easily.
Points opened the tournament with the lowest score of the first round, a 7-under 63 at Monterey Peninsula. He ended it with the lowest score of the final round, a 67 at Pebble Beach on a cool, breezy day of sunshine.
Starting the last day two shots behind, he was among four players who had at least a share of the lead. Then came the pivotal moment on the 14th, the toughest hole at Pebble that doesn’t feature a shot anywhere near the Pacific.
This is the hole where Paul Goydos, Alex Prugh and Bryce Molder each made 9 to fall out of contention a year ago. Points was one shot behind and 100 yards away—not the yardage he wanted for such a delicate shot—and his gap wedge was a little thin.
It worked out perfectly, landing in the first cut of rough just over the steep bunker, with enough spin to trickle into the cup for eagle. Points’ only gaffe on the back nine was the chest-bump he tried with Murray. He was leaping as Murray was landing. It wasn’t pretty.
Then came the big birdie putt on the 15th for a two-shot lead, and some comic relief on the 16th.
Only this didn’t come from Murray, but Points.
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,” said Points, who finished with a 15-under 271 and earned $1,134,000, more than he earned in any of his previous four seasons on tour.
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.
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. He is a PGA Tour winner, headed to the Masters for the first time. Murray has been to Augusta National a few times himself, and offered up some advice.
“Really good food,” Murray said. “The course is OK. But the food is unbelievable.”
Photo - Stuart Franklins - Getty Images
Doug Ferguson - AP Golf Writer
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