D.A. Points finished 16th on the Nationwide Tour.
Nov. 10, 2008
McKinney, Texas - The University of Illinois will have two of its former players on the PGA Tour in 2009. Steve Stricker continues as one of the top five players in the world and this weekend D.A. Points secured his PGA Tour Card after finishing 16th on the money list on the 2008 Nationwide Tour.
Points, a 1999 graduate of Illinois, earns the card by placing in the top 25 on the final Nationwide Tour money list, which wrapped up this weekend with the Tour Championship. The Pekin, Ill., native earns his card for the third season in his career, having also played on tour in 2005 and 2006 and has won $933,442 in career earnings playing in 66 events.
"I've grown a lot," Points said. "I have a better understanding of what is going to make me better at my craft. Next year when I'm on the PGA Tour hopefully I'll be able to excel, not only to keep my card, but also win and become a great player out there."
Points began 2008 strong. He earned a sponsorship exemption for the PGA Tour's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February where he fired a first round 68 en route to tying for 11th on the weekend at four-under par. He and his amateur partner, Peter Watzka, placed second as a team in the Pro-Am. In March, Points shot back-to-backs 68s in the first two rounds of the PGA's Arnold Palmer Invitational to again make the cut, finishing in a tie for 41st. He earned a combined $111,000 in those two events. In June, he made the cut at the U.S. Open with scores of 74 and 71 in the first two rounds.
Points used momentum from his strong showing at Pebble Beach to play well in the Land Down Under in his second Nationwide Event of the season. He tied for fifth the following week at the HSBC New Zealand PGA and tied for seventh in the Moonah Classic just outside of Melbourne, Australia, a week after that. His nationwide season included five top 10s and 10 top 25s while making the cut at 15 of the 25 events he played.
"I played solid all year," Points said. "I was a chip and a putt a way numerous weeks of having some really great finishes."
His breakthrough moment came two weeks ago at the Miccousukee Championship in Miami. In that tournament, Points was two-over par through 36 holes, but fired an amazing 62 in the third round to put him in the final grouping of the day with Matt Bettencourt. Points entered the 72nd hole one shot down and promptly used a 52 degree wedge to hole his approach shot for eagle from 125 yards.
"I was one back and he had already hit his second shot on the green so I knew for me to have any chance, I would have to use a tough iron shot to make birdie," Points said of his mindset going into the incredible shot. "I felt maybe if I was lucky enough for him to miss the putt we could go into sudden death. I had a good angle and good lie and went right at it. I thought maybe I'd get it close, but when the crowd went extra nuts, I figured out I had made it."
After Bettencourt sunk a birdie putt, the duo did go into a sudden death playoff starting with the 18th. Points' drive off the tee was within two yards of his divot from the amazing shot moments earlier. This time, his approach landed within five feet of the cup, where he tapped in for birdie and the $112,500 winners check.
"I've spent countless hours on the putting green and working with my instructor, playing holes and traveling five and six weeks in a row," said Points, reflecting on his road back to the majors. "It's not that I've worked any harder than anyone else, but it's that I've grown to believe in myself and not let some of the little things that have bothered me in the past get in the way.
"It feels great, but at the same time, it's my job. Like anyone else, I want to be great at what I do. I've been working hard and been putting in the right time to do that."