HUMBLE, Texas -- The putter D.A. Points once took from his mother paid off on Thursday in the Houston Open.

Points opened with five consecutive birdies and wound up with an 8-under 64 at Redstone Golf Club. He had a one-stroke lead over Cameron Tringale and John Rollins.

Second-ranked Rory McIlroy was 3 over after a double bogey on the par-5 eighth, then rallied for a 73. This is his final start before the Masters, which begins April 11 at Augusta National

"The front nine I was a little tentative," he said. "I just tried to commit to myself a little more on the back nine, and it seemed to help."

Points first borrowed the Ping Anser from his mother during his junior years in Illinois, and like most golfers, he abandoned it once he stopped making putts. But he recently asked Ping to clean it up for him and add some weight. He also got a putting lesson.

"Maybe I'm an idiot for not having used this putter the whole time," Points said. "It worked well today."

Points, whose only win came with actor Bill Murray at his side at the 2011 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, made all five of his opening birdies from inside 15 feet.

Phil Mickelson was at 4 under until he hit his tee shot into the water on the sixth hole and made double bogey, nearly hooked a 3-wood into the hazard on the next hole and three-putted for bogey, and then made bogey on the par-3 ninth to wind up at 72.



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