The Prairie State; The Land of Lincoln, whatever you choice of name for Illinois you can now also call it home to the 2011 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Ams Champions. That’s champions, with an “s” as not only did Pekin, Illinois native D.A. Points (63-70-71-67-271) secure his first PGA Tour win on Sunday, comedian and actor Bill Murray of Wilmette, Illinois got in on the action as well. The duo took down the Pro-Am team title, a first for Murray who has been an institution at the tournament for many years.
Although Murray is thought of by many to be an over-the-top distraction at Pebble Beach, Points reiterated all week that it was actually working in his favor to have the funnyman well known in golf for his role in the movie Caddyshack on his side. Points was effusive is his praise of Murray and how he actually helped him to the individual win.
“Yeah, everybody all week kept saying, well, you got the short end of the stick playing with Murray and he’s so crazy and I never, ever felt that way and I kept thinking, you know, why does everybody get so worked up thinking he’s this big distraction,” Points told the media after being presented with the crystal trophy and a check for $1.134 million. “I tried to embrace it. I was expecting him to be, you know, more of a distraction than he was, and maybe he toned it down, maybe he didn’t, I didn’t know, but 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 more loose and having a good time with Bill.”
Whatever the case, it seemed to work for Points who jumped into the lead with an improbable shot on the par five, 14th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links, more unusual in that it is a par five that averages OVER par. Points struck what would become the tournament-winning shot from 107 yards, his third stroke on the hole that found the bottom of the cup. “I knew it was going to at least be a decent shot and I saw it just barely carried the bunker and I could hear the crowd, because we could not see anything from where we were hitting but the crowd, they went nuts. It was great. Our chest pump, he was trying to do it where we would not actually hit but I went all the way so I was a little embarrassed about that part. But really, that was — it was an amazing moment and it was a pivotal shot for the outcome of the event.”
Third round leader Steve Marino (65-66-71-74- 276) still had a chance to catch Points on the 72nd hole of the tournament but needed an eagle of his own to do so. Instead, his four iron from 200 yards found a watery grave and left him with a snowman scarring his card. He earned a share of fourth place alongside Spencer Levin. (71-68-67-70-276). “We had 200 yards to the hole, and I knew I was two back so I was trying to hold my 4-iron and I just pulled it and hit it in the water and after that, it was — kind of the wind was out of my sails. I fought so hard today and felt like I played pretty good and just didn’t work out for me. It was kind of, the last hole, knowing you’re fighting so hard to win, doesn’t happen, it’s kind of a bummer,” explained Marino who was also chasing his first win on the PGA Tour.
Hunter Mahan (70-67-70-66-273) made the charge of the day, a final round 66 with an opening nine of 31, but his failure to convert fairly easy birdie opportunities on the final two holes left him in second place alone by the end of the day. Tom Gillis (67-68-70-70-275) took third place by himself.
It was a rough week for the Canadians as all five players in the field from Canada failed to make the cut.
Mike Weir: 68-73-74-215
*Matt Hill: 76-68-73-217 (*Sponsor’s Exemption)
David Hearn: 75-73-70-218
Matt McQuillan: 76-76-68 -220
Chris Baryla: 71-77-73-221