The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
If D.A. Points doesn’t already have Brian White on speed dial, you have to figure it’s going to happen soon.
Points, you may recall, was a missed cut waiting to happen when Chris Stroud arranged for him to take a putting lesson from the Lamar University golf coach the Wednesday before the start of the Shell Houston Open. Four days later, Points was hoisting the SHO championship trophy, pocketing a check for $1,116,000 and crediting the tips he received from a college coach.
Lightning nearly struck twice in the same place this past weekend, amidst all the storms in New Orleans. Points, after so-so showings with the flatstick in the Valero Texas Open and the Masters, called White about a tune-up. Only a closing 64 by Billy Horschel, capped by a 27-foot birdie putt on the final hole, kept Points from winning again.
And, once more, he acknowledged the adjustments White suggested he make.
“My right hip was a little high at address,” he said. “And also, when I was trying to take the putter back, I was doing a little too much with my hands and my wrists, as opposed to still picking it up and trying to do a little bit more with my arms.”
Points’ second place check in New Orleans was $712,800. Among other things, what that means is two putting sessions with White helped him collect $1,828,800 in the month of April. Uncle Sam should give the LU coach a rebate on his 2013 taxes.
Prior to working with White, Points had missed seven of nine cuts and won $34,048. In the aftermath, the 1999 University of Illinois graduate has banked $1,864,890, while moving to eighth on the money list and seventh in Fed Ex Cup points. He’s now only $170,000 shy of his biggest year in official money.
Worth noting is that 50 percent of Points’ PGA Tour victories and 50 percent of the his career second place finishes have followed a putting lesson from White.
White said he was somewhat surprised to hear from Points again last week.
“He called and wanted me to come and check him out in New Orleans,” said White, whose Lamar team was wrapping up play in the Southland Conference tournament last Wednesday in Plano when his phone rang. “I had already planned to go to New Orleans to work with Chris, so it was no problem to do it. I got with D.A. on Wednesday and Thursday.”
White won’t discuss what kind of financial arrangement, if any, he has with Points.
“This isn’t about money,” he said. “The biggest thing he can do for me is promote me and get some attention for Lamar golf. I think it’s a pretty amazing story that he’s gotten such good results so soon on both occasions after we worked together. It says a lot about his ability, but I think I played a significant part in getting him on the right track. If Billy Horschel hadn’t gone crazy on Sunday, D.A. would have won again.”
So who, exactly, is Brian White and why has he made such a difference for Points?
For openers, he’s a native Beaumonter who attended Kelly High School, played golf at Lamar in the late 1980s, spent five years playing the game professionally, spent six years as head pro at Beaumont Country Club and worked as an assistant to then LU head coach Brad McMakin. When McMakin left for Arkansas seven years ago, Whitey was the obvious successor.
As both the men’s and women’s coach at LU, White’s had a terrific run. His men’s team, and the women to a lesser extent, have dominated the Southland Conference. His men, despite having a small budget and facilities that don’t compare to the power programs, have also been extremely competitive on the national stage.
The Cardinals, after coming up short this season, have been to the NCAA regionals 11 of the past 13 years. They finished 25th in the NCAAs last year at Riviera. Their crowning achievement was a third place finish in the 2007 NCAA tournament. LU’s women, meanwhile, are headed to the regionals for the first time, after a year in which they won four tournaments and finished second in three others.
Stroud’s been the most successful player to come out of the LU program, but Dawie Van der Walt won on the European Tour earlier this year, Shawn Stefani won twice on the Web.com Tour last year and Oliver Bekker won on the Sunshine Tour in 2012.
Nobody trumpets White’s teaching more than Stroud, although you would suspect Points may soon drown him out.
“Whitey is as an excellent teacher and I’m so happy to see him starting to get some attention for what he does,” Stroud said. “Like I told you a few weeks ago, he can putt as well as most tour pros. To me, he’s as good as anybody when it comes to teaching the short game. He’s good with pros, with college men and women and with people who shoot 90.
“He’s not just a short game guy, either. He’s got a terrific grasp of swing principles and what works.”
Lamar golf, then, is extremely fortunate to have somebody like White. But, with his reputation growing, you wonder how long it can keep an elite program from luring him away. Hopefully for the Cardinals, the Illinois job doesn’t come open any time soon.
Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at email@example.com.