By Stan Awtrey, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- Bananas are a good source of potassium, a benefit to golfers who want to prevent leg cramps on a hot, muggy day.
But bananas on the practice range are something no one wants to see, especially minutes before walking to the first tee of a major championship.
That was the problem facing D.A. Points on Friday morning. When he began to hit his driver, the result was a series of big, curving banana balls. You could even call it a whole bunch. It was enough to cause a few drops of sweat to form beads on his upper lip.
“I mean, I was making what I felt like were good swings and they were big bananas to the right,” Points said. “I was like, wait a minute, what the heck is going on?”
Upon further review, Points discovered his left wrist was “too cuppy” and caused the club to fly open. He also discerned that his shoulders were opening too quickly. So he slowed his shoulders, flattened his left wrist a little and watched the banana ball disappear.
The answers came just in time. It was only 18 minutes until his appointment on the first tee, and Points didn't exactly kill it on his final swings on the range. But when it came time to start keeping score, Points never suffered a relapse.
His opening tee shot found the fairway and enabled him to land his approach 6 feet from the hole, and he made the putt for his first of five birdies. Points wound up shooting a 3-under 67, which thrust him into contention midway into the 93rd PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
Points found 24 of 28 fairways and 30 of 36 greens in regulation over the first two days. On Friday, the man who was struggling on the practice range hit his first 12 -- in both categories.
“Just driving it straight, hitting it on the green and not wasting too many shots,” he explained.
Points doesn't exactly have a thick resume at major championships. This is only the sixth major in which he's competed. He's now made the cut for a third time and is looking for his first top-10; he was 16th at the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
But Points has just established himself as a bona fide member on the PGA TOUR. After several trips to q-school, Points has retaining his privileges the last two seasons by finishing inside the top 125 on the money list. And this year he upped the ante by winning his first event, taking the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, a victory that infused him with confidence and allowed him to change his expectations.
“I feel like I should just start to contend every week, not any extra pressure on majors,” said Points, who was partnered with his favorite comedian, Bill Murray, at Pebble Beach. “I feel pretty good that I've treated this week kind of like every other week, besides maybe being a little bit more cautious because I potentially don't have to be 15 or 16 under to win this week.”
And being a veteran, Points isn't going to race ahead of himself, knowing that there are still 36 holes of golf remaining.
“It feels great, but it's only Friday,” he said. “I'm going to feel a lot better when it's Sunday and I'm talking to (the media). There's so much golf left.”
Now if he can just leave the bananas in the fruit bowl at the hotel, he'll be just fine.