RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Joe Theismann was paired with Juli Inkster in Wednesday’ pro-am round at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, and odds are they did not compare past ailments.
Inkster, 52, was sidelined with an injury for the first time in her career last season. Theismann, of course, suffered one of the most horrific injuries in NFL history.
“I laugh about golfers all the time,” Theismann said midway through his afternoon round at Mission Hills. “Why don’t you stand there and I’ll get some of my 300-pound buddies to knock you on the ground and see how excited you are to get back on the tee.”
Theismann’s career-ending leg injury was back in the news after Louisville’s Kevin Ware endured his own stomach-turning leg injury during Sunday night’s NCAA basketball tournament.
Theismann, who was watching the game live, sent out a Tweet that went viral and later got in touch with Ware, who he said is in a “great place mentally.”
“I think he’s going to be a great inspiration to his basketball team,” Theismann said.
For Theismann, memories from the football field in 1985 came flooding back.
“It came back to me instantly,” he said. “I could smell the the smells, hear the sounds, feel the moisture on my back just like it was yesterday.”
Theismann now has a golf club in his hands most days, which is far less dangerous than his previous pastime.
“That was the second time I had broken my right leg,” Theismann said of the Lawrence Taylor hit. “I dislocated my left elbow, broke my nose seven times, lost my front teeth, had multiple concussions ... tore my left knee, broken ribs, broken collar bones.”
Good thing he and Inkster had other things to talk about. Like winning championships.
With talk of Augusta National beginning to dominate conversation of golf around the world, it'd be easy to forget that the likes of Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Charl Schwartzel and Matt Kuchar are teeing it up this week in Texas for one final tune-up.
McIlroy is the biggest name in that bunch and will tee off at 8:50 a.m. EDT with Kuchar and young up-and-comer Jordan Spieth.
D.A. Points wins the Shell Houston Open. Local Buchanan High Alum...Kevin Chappell ties for 6th.
1 D.A. Points -16 F
T2 Henrik Stenson -15
T2 Billy Horschel -15
T4 Dustin Johnson -14
T4 Ben Crane -14 F
T6 Brian Davis -13 F
T6 Kevin Chappell -13 F
T6 Stewart Cink -13 F
9 Jason Kokrak -12 F
T10 Brendon de Jonge -11
T10 Charles Howell III -11
T10 Keegan Bradley -11
T10 Lee Westwood -11
T10 Louis Oosthuizen -11
T10 Bill Haas -11
T16 Phil Mickelson -10
T16 Cameron Tringale -10
T16 Angel Cabrera -10
T16 Bud Cauley -10
By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
HUMBLE, Texas – To answer your questions:
1) Yes, D.A. Points is headed to the Masters.
2) And, no. His mom is not getting her putter back anytime soon.
That putter Darren Andrew Points plucked from his mom’s golf bag ages ago, the vintage Ping Anser, has been in his collection so long now that his mom probably didn’t remember it was gone until he mentioned it earlier this week.
Points came into the week struggling. Playing like -- his word -- garbage. He had made all of two cuts in nine starts this year and needed something. Anything. So he grabbed a handful of putters and headed to Houston where he took Chris Stroud’s advice and spent an hour with Lamar coach Brian White, who said Mom’s putter looked pretty good in his hands.
Done. In the bag.
It all rolled from there as Points pulled together a where-did-that-come-from week and capped it by sinking a 13-foot par putt at the 72nd hole to win the rain-delayed Shell Houston Open and earn a spot in the Masters.
Then he promptly sat on the wet green and did his best “Dufnering” pose for the cameras.
The moment capped one free-for-all of a day at Redstone Golf Club. What started as almost anyone’s tournament, morphed into a day where seven players either led or shared the lead on an afternoon when thunderstorms produced a 2-hour, 38-minute rain delay.
When the rain blew in, Henrik Stenson had just birdied the 18th hole to take the clubhouse lead. He realized he had played his way into the world’s top 50 and into the Masters. Once it cleared, there was just enough light for the final 12 players in the field and each took his shot. Billy Horschel made par at the 18th to tie Stenson, then they waited to see if Points would crack.
He didn’t. All he needed was four straight pars after the rain delay and he got them.
Points has a history of turning the corner on a dime. A few years ago, he was struggling on the Web.com Tour in 2010. He went back to an old instructor and – boom -- he won.
“I've been hitting it better and better, and I saw Brian White for a putting lesson,’’ Points said. “Gave me a couple things, changed the putter, boom, felt great, and here I am.
“So, the thing about it, is I never count myself out. I never just chalk it up, like, ‘Oh, this year is over with.’ I've never ever felt like that. I was just grinding, just trying to wait and try to find that one thing that was like, boom, there it is and there I go.
“Fortunately, it was this week and I capitalized on it.”
D.A. Points moved to 19th in the FedExCup standings with his victory at Redstone Golf Club. Standings
It was Points’ second TOUR win. His first? That memorable week at Pebble Beach where he and Bill Murray also teamed to win the Pro-Am. That week, Murray kept him loose.
Sunday, Points, who can be hard on himself, found the levity on his own -- a cheesy, all-teeth grin he kept flashing at caddie Travis Perkins.
“So, every time he wasn't looking at me, I'd kind of look at him with this big, cheesy grin,’’ Points said. “He would start laughing and I would instantly laugh. That was just enough of the stuff to break the tension.’’
Points started the day one shot behind Stewart Cink and Bill Haas and toward the top of a packed field -- 15 players were within two shots of the lead; 26 players within six shots -- that screamed free-for-all. It was definitely that.
Dustin Johnson jumped into the picture with an eagle at the 15th to get to 14 under, then Stenson birdied 18 to get to 15 under. Horschel tied him after the rain delay and Points found himself watching Ben Crane, who tied for fourth, and Cink, who tied for sixth.
Points had a huge pitch on the 17th hole and wound up saving par with Mom’s putter to go to 18 with a one-shot lead.
“I've been working really hard on my pitching this year as far as just making sure I hit it solid, and my thought was just focus on the ball, you know, kind of have, you know, kind of overemphasize keeping my head down to make sure that I hit that thing solid,’’ Points said.“And when I hit it solid and saw it tracking, it was also one that I was like if -- this is on a great line. This could go in. To get it up there with a gimme was huge, huge.’’
And at 18? He saw the putt breaking left, but didn’t figure it was going in until it got about six inches from the cup.
Now, it’s on to the Masters. The win puts him in the field -- he played there in 2011 and missed the cut -- and, he said, he never really thought about not getting there.
“I never not think it's on my radar,’’ he said. “You know, again, I want to win. I want to win more than once. I want to have the opportunity to win majors and win majors, I want to play in Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups. These are things I want to do and I know I'm capable of doing.
“So I never doubt that I can do it. I certainly get down and frustrated when I make two of nine cuts. That's not making you feel real great about yourself.’’
Then boom. He talks to White, picks up mom’s putter, gets on a roll and he plays his way into the Masters.
You can hear Murray now . . .another Cinderella story.
And White? He pushed a flight to work with Points and they didn’t talk about a fee.
“He sent me a text and said, ‘You can just pay for my change fee and that will be payment enough for the lesson,’’’ Points said, pausing to grin.
“I probably should kick him a little more than that.’’
And Mom? She doesn’t want the putter back. She’s just glad it’s in good hands.