Points Starts off Hot in Houston Open with 64; McIlroy Nine Strokes Back

D.A. Points fired an 8-under 64 to take the lead in the opening round of the Shell Houston Open. The $6.2 million PGA Tour event began Thursday on the Tournament Course at Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Texas.

Points, a 36-year-old whose one Tour win came in the 2011 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, started play on the 10th hole and got off to a roaring start with five straight birdies. He added another birdie on the par-4 17th to make the turn in 6-under 30. On his home half, the Illinois native added three more birdies and his only bogey on the par-4 fifth hole.

Points owed his start to his mother's old putter. He had the club's manufacturer Ping refurbish the 1980s Anser, and put it in his bag Thursday. "I brought it with me this week because I just had been putting so bad, I thought maybe I'll pull this old putter out of the garage and maybe it will have some magic in it. Sure enough, today it did," he told PGATour.com.

"I was using that putter and I won twice on the Webb.com Tour en route to finishing second on that money list, and it was probably my best year putting of my life," Points added. "I think I finished in the top-five in putting on the Webb.com. Maybe I'm an idiot for not having used this putter the whole time."

Both Cameron Tringale and John Rollins posted 65s, while another stroke back were Jason Kokrak and two-time major champion Angel Cabrera.

Shooting 67s were Jeff Overton, England's Brian Davis and Steve Wheatcroft. The 35-year-old Wheatcroft, a second-year PGA Tour member, opened with two pars and a bogey and then really got rolling on the fourth hole, reeling off eight birdies in 10 holes to soar up the leaderboard before tapering off with two bogeys on his last four holes.

Nine players posted 3-under 69s.

Four-time major champion Phil Mickelson opened with a 72, a score matched by Michael Thompson, who won the Honda Classic in early March.

Starting on the 10th tee, Mickelson went out with three birdies, making the turn in 3-under 33. But the 42-yar-old got sloppy on his back nine, with one birdie, two bogeys and a double on the par-4 fifth. "It was a disappointing finish," Mickelson said. "I feel really good with the putter, and I believe that as the tournament goes on, I'll get better."

Rory McIlroy, playing in his first event since the WGC-Cadillac Championship on March 10 at Doral, opened with a 1-over 73 in only his ninth competitive round of the year. The 23-year-old Northern Irishman, who was unseated as the world's top-ranked player on Monday when Tiger Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, had a tough start, carding a bogey on the par-4 second and a double on the par-5 eighth to make the turn in 3-over 39.

He warmed up on the home half, though, with three birdies on the first four holes before closing with two bogeys and another bogey for a 2-under 34.

"I feel like I'm hitting it okay and am putting well," he said. "But I came out of a few iron shots today. The thing is to commit to my shots. I did come back well, though.

"I feel like I'm playing okay," McIroy added. "I'm still a little tentative out on the golf course."

Woods, who's won twice in the past three weeks, is not playing in Houston.

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