In the 20-year professional golf career of D.A. Points, this has been one of his least satisfying.
The 42-year-old Pekin native — a member of the PGA Tour since 2005 — played in 13 events from November to April, making the cut in just three of them before undergoing neck surgery two months ago.
He elected to take a major medical exemption for 2018-19, meaning his season is over. Points’ goal is to be ready for the start of the 2019-20 season in September.
“I feel really good,” he said from his home in Windermere, Fla. “I’m in the gym going through my workouts, I do physical therapy twice a week and physical training four days a week. I’m trying to get as strong as I can and get my body in shape to be prepared to come back on tour when I’m able. I haven’t been able to pinpoint with my doctors the exact event when I can come back. For the most part, I’m strong, I’m playing and practicing as much as possible.”
All is not lost this summer. Points is headed back home next week to be on hand for the second playing of the youth tournament that bears his name — the D.A. Points Junior Open.
The event will be held July 8-11 at the Pekin Country Club, Points’ home course. It’s open to players 12-19 looking to earn college golf scholarships.
“Last year was good and this year should be even better,” Points said.
The tournament received a boost this week when it was named by the American Junior Golf Association as the best new event on the AJGA schedule.
Tournament organizers secured $58,000 in sponsorship and donated $25,000 of that to the ACE Grant and local charities. The ACE Grant provides financial assistance to players who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf.
“It’s super gratifying,” Points said. “But it’s more of a testament to (organizers) Scott Phegley and Michelle Kuhl, (course superintendent) Geoff Kemp, (club pro) Paul Betteridge and (sponsors) Pekin Insurance and UnityPoint Health for the amazing job they all did last year. I was mostly a bystander for most of it. I’m really grateful for all the work those people put in.”
Last year, Points was also busy that week playing in the John Deere Classic in Moline. But he made the drive to Pekin back and forth following his practice and playing rounds to be involved with the youth event.
“It was a bit of an undertaking on most days, but it wasn’t too bad,” Points said. “Interstate 74 was in good shape so it was smooth sailing.”
The John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run will also be the same week this year. Although Points isn’t competing in the tournament, he will again be commuting between the courses to check in with his equipment people at Callaway and meet with his trainer and friends.
It’s obviously not the same as playing in one of his favorite events. But it’s Points’ reality this year.
“It’s tough not being able to (play),” he said. “I’ve been playing golf my whole life. I miss competing. Practicing is fine. But I want to be there teeing it up in tournaments with the energy, the atmosphere and the excitement.”
This time, he’ll have to be a spectator. And he’ll spend as much time as he can watching and giving tips to the young golfers in Pekin.
The inaugural tournament was won by Luke Armbrust of Wheaton and Kornkamol Sakuaree of California. Morton’s Tommy Kuhl was sixth. All three have gone on to play for the University of Illinois, Points’ alma mater and an NCAA tournament qualifier for the 12th consecutive year.
“I’m sure a lot of kids will hear how great it was and be excited to come back again this year,” Points said. “Maybe make this field a little stronger.”
Dave Reynolds can be reached at 686-3210 or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at davereynolds2.