GOLF: Landry scores first PGA Tour victory

Published 8:33 pm Sunday, April 22, 2018

Life will never again be quite the same for Andrew Landry.

The 30-year-old product of the now defunct Groves Pea Patch etched his name on the trophy of San Antonio’s Valero Texas Open Sunday with the combination of skill and grit that have come to define him. In so doing, he entered a very special category of golfers who can say they won on the PGA Tour.

Landry, tied at 13-under-par with Zach Johnson when the day began, took the lead with a birdie on the first hole, made three more over the next five holes and looked like he was going to run away from challengers. He never relinquished the lead, but things got really hairy on the back nine.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Ultimately, the Port Neches-Groves ex prevailed by two shots over Trey Mullinax and Sean O’Hair by closing with a four-under-par 68 for a 72-hole total of 17-under 271 on the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio.

The immediate payoff was a check for $1,116,000. But it’s the residuals that send Landry soaring to another level.

The victory punches his ticket to the 2019 Masters, gets him into next month’s Players Championship, is worth two years of PGA Tour exemptions and moved him to ninth in Fed Ex Cup points. His Official World Golf Ranking jumped to 114.

“This was something I definitely wanted to do and accomplish,” said Landry, in the aftermath. “Now we’ve got to get some more goals and try to achieve something higher, like winning a major.

“It’s unbelievable. I can not believe I am going to get to go to Augusta National.”

Landry followed Chris Stroud in becoming the second Pea Patch alum to win on the PGA Tour in eight months. He did it with an impressive array of stats, included second most birdies (21), tying for fewest bogeys (4), leading in greens hit in regulation (73.6 percent) and being second in scrambling.

What stats don’t measure is intestinal fortitude and Landry showed plenty of that as things looked like they might slip away on the back. Mullinax got within one shot when Landry made his first bogey in 45 holes on the 11th, and it was never comfortable until the 6-4 bomber from Alabama missed a short birdie at 18.

Landry sealed the victory with an 8-foot par putt on the 72nd hole, then embraced wife Elizabeth and numerous other family members in attendance. He signed off on a closing 68 that followed rounds of 69-67-67. Seven of his last eight rounds have been in the 60s.

The win made Landry the fourth player from Southeast Texas to hoist a championship trophy in a PGA Tour event. Port Arthuran Marty Fleckman was the first, then Beaumonter Bruce Lietzke, then Stroud. Only Lietzke, with 14 titles on the regular tour, has won more than once.

Landry’s blazing start Sunday included birdies on the first three holes from 9 feet, 3 feet and 6 feet. He had a fourth from 11 feet on the sixth hole and got to five under by sinking a 14-footer at 10. It would be a struggle the rest of the way.

“I knew the front nine was getable,” he said. “I kind of looked at the pin locations to start the round and I knew that you can get those pins. Starting that way was a huge momentum builder.”

Missed birdies from 5 feet on 12 and 4 feet on 14 kept Landry from opening daylight on Mullinax. His saving shot was on the back was a 7-foot par putt at the 13th that kept him a stroke ahead.

Things looked really scary at the par 4, 17th when Landry left a wedge from 119 yards some 53 feet short of the hole. But Mullinax, who had driven nearly pin high, chunked his shot into the bunker and made bogey. Landry was able to two putt and go to the par 5, 18th with a two-stroke lead.

Still, there would be drama. Landry, just needing par, hit his 87-yard third shot nearly 50 feet beyond the hole. When Mullinax wedged to nine feet, there was potential for a two-shot swing. But Mullixax missed and Landry’s comeback 8-footer was no longer a must make. He drained it anyway.