Landry, Johnson tied for Valero lead

Published 9:14 pm Saturday, April 21, 2018

Zach Johnson, a two-time major winner with 12 victories to his credit, was one of Andrew Landry’s role models when the Port Neches-Groves ex was starting to dream about making it on the PGA Tour. Today in San Antonio, Johnson will be squarely in the path of a potential life-changing moment for Landry.

“It will be so cool to be playing in the final group with him again on Sunday,” Landry said, after a five-under-par 67 gave him a share of the 54-hole lead with Johnson at 13 under in the Valero Texas Open. “He has always been a big role model for me. I look up to him.”

Landry, of course, is well aware Johnson is not the only player he will have to beat over the quirky Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio.

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Seven players are within four shots of the co-leaders, including Trey Mullinax whose course-record 62 brought him from deep in the pack to within a shot. Ryan Moore trails by two, with Sean O’Hair, Jimmy Walker, Chris Kirk and Martin Laird all four back.

Landry started Saturday’s round a stroke behind Johnson and Moore but quickly grabbed the lead with three birdies in the first six holes. Only a balky putter kept him pulling away from the field.

On a day when he hit 16 of 18 greens, Landry missed eight putts from inside 17 feet and five from inside 12 feet. Two were lip outs and several others looked in and didn’t fall.

“I had a lot of chances,” said Landry. I missed some putts I should have made. Tee to green, it was probably as good a round of golf as I have ever played.

“The new shafts in my irons have been such a difference maker. What’s crazy is I didn’t put them in play until Thursday. I have so much confidence with them, especially the long irons.”

Landry held the lead for much of the day, but Mullinax took it away by playing his final five holes in six under. An eagle on the 18th moved him to 12 under, while Landry, playing the 11th hole, was sitting on 11.

After making nine consecutive pars, Landry finally ended his birdie drought by rolling in an 8-footer on the par 3, 16th. He regained the top spot on the leaderboard by hitting his second on the par 4, 17th to three feet and making the putt.

Johnson caught up on the 18th by sinking a short birdie after Landry’s 11-footer slipped by the hole.

Landry, who will be rooted on Sunday by several family members, including his wife and newborn son, his mother and dad, his brother, a couple of aunts and several friends from Southeast Texas, says he doesn’t expect the moment to be too big for him.

“I have been in this situation before, both on the PGA Tour and the Tour,” he said. “The experience I had in the CareerBuilder Challenge will be a big help. I expect to sleep well tonight and play well Sunday.”

Among the things that bode well for Landry is that he is fourth in the field in total birdies (16), second in fewest bogeys (3) and first in greens in regulation (43-of-54). He has gone 35 consecutive holes without making a bogey. Six of his last seven competitive rounds have been in the 60s.

The last time Landry had a chance to win, in the CareerBuilder Challenge, he didn’t blink, shooting a closing 68 that got him into a playoff with Jon Rahm. Rahm, who was the world’s No. 3 ranked player at the time, finally beat him on the fourth hole of sudden death.

Television coverage begins today at noon on the Golf Channel, with CBS taking over at 2 p.m.