BOB WEST ON GOLF: Landry’s stock rising after first Tour victory

Published 5:02 pm Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Editor’s note: Bob West’s weekly golf notepad will appear online later tonight and in Thursday’s issue

Roughly 24 hours after his breakthrough PGA Tour win in the Valero Texas Open, Andrew Landry was sitting in his Austin home pouring through volumes of congratulatory text messages, reflecting on fulfilling a long-time goal and about to surrender to fatigue.

“I’m pretty tired but it’s a good tired,” he said. “Winning a tournament is everything I thought it would be, but truthfully it has not totally sunk in yet. I don’t think it will until I get over to New Orleans this week and hear what some of the bigger players have to say.”

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What they have to say will probably be something along the lines of Zach Johnson — Landry’s role model and playing partner for both weekend rounds in San Antonio.

“I can’t believe how good this kid is,” was Johnson’s response, after an up-close-and-personal look at the 67-68 Landry posted in the pressure-cooker conditions of trying to notch a first-ever victory that had narrowly eluded him in February.

And, for those in Southeast Texas reveling in seeing and hearing high praise for a favorite son, how about that headline on the PGA website story?

“Andrew Landry — From Pea Patch to PGA Tour winner,” it blared. The Pea Patch, it seems, is never really going away.

It might be a stretch to say Landry is going to be the next big thing in golf. If, however, he were a stock on the open market, a lot of folks who
understand golf at the highest level would be calling their brokers.

The 30-year-old Port Neches-Groves ex is talented, hungry, understands what makes him great is he’s too fearless to ever back down and genuinely believes he belongs. Landry is also humble and smart enough to realize he must continue to be a relentless worker to compete with more physically gifted players.

Landry’s belief in himself is trumped in two self wagers that underscore why he is a player to be reckoned with going forward on the PGA Tour.

Nearly a decade ago when he was playing for the University of Arkansas, Frank Broyles, the school’s athletic director made the proverbial offer that can’t be refused. Broyles, a ranking member at Augusta National, wanted to take Andrew to play the spectacular golf course that hosts the Masters each April.

Landry politely REFUSED. Not once but twice. He told Broyles thanks, that he would love to play Augusta National, but only after he earned it by winning on the PGA Tour.

“Playing in the Masters is a dream come true,” he said Monday. “I can’t wait to get to Augusta and play the course. It will mean more because of how it came about.”

Wager No. 2 came when Landry and his agent were going over some endorsement proposals prior to the start of the 2018 season. Landry, who could have used the extra money, felt he was being low balled. Convinced he was going to have a big year, and enhance his value, he held off.

Now he is about to start cashing in.

“I felt I was going to win this year and didn’t want to shortchange myself,” he explained. “I would think there will be something coming my way pretty quick.”

Three immediate results from the Valero win bound to enhance Landry’s profile are rising from No. 41 to No. 9 in FedEx points, from No. 114 to No. 66 in the Official World Golf Ranking and from No. 40 to No. 15 on the Ryder Cup list.

“That’s all really exciting,” he said. “I just heard about the Ryder Cup. That puts me in a realistic position to make it, and there is still plenty of time. That would be amazing.

“Of course, one of my goals is to pile up enough FedEx Cup points to be able to make it to the finals in Atlanta. I’m not too far off from guaranteeing that. All I need to do is keep playing well.”

While winning in San Antonio gets Landry into the Players Championship, the PGA Championship and the 2019 Masters, it did not earn him a spot in the U.S. Open or British Open. But, with his No. 66 OWGR, he is within striking distance.

To claim a spot in the U.S. Open without having to go through qualifying, he needs to be in the top 60 in the world rankings by May 21. An invite to the British Open requires climbing into the top 50 by the end of June.

Meanwhile, Landry happily acknowledges that winning on the PGA Tour will indeed be a life-changing experience for him.

“One thing that won’t change,” he quickly pointed out, “is who I am as a person. But in terms of job security, PGA retirement benefits, endorsements, recognition, it changes all aspects of your life.”

Among the many impressive aspects of Landry winning in San Antonio was the fact he did it by going head-to-head with Johnson, who boasts two majors among  12 PGA Tour titles, and Trey Mullinax, an imposing 6-4 physical specimen who epitomizes the bombs-away-type player who is supposedly the wave of the future.

Neither Johnson’s experience, nor the long balls launched by Mullinax, intimidated the 5-7 Landry. That should not have been surprising considering the way he held up in the final round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, then went toe-to-toe with world No. 2 Jon Rahm in a four-hole sudden-death playoff.

“I am not nervous, no matter who I play with,” Landry said. “You can’t be scared, if you are going to make it our here. Fear will get you run over. I might get beat but it won’t be because I was scared.

“In relation to how far Trey hit the ball, I didn’t think about it. “I would love to be able to hit it that far, but I have learned to accept that I am never going to be that guy. I have also learned you can’t play the way someone else plays. To succeed, I have to play to my strengths.”

Next up for Landry is this week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans, an event whose partnership format is seemingly perfect for a player trying to come back down from the thrill of victory. He is teaming with Talor Gooch, a buddy from their days on the Tour.

“After being pretty stressed, this is ideal for me,” he said. “It is going to be a fun week to just go out and play. I’m going to have a lot of friends and family over, and I can really relax playing with Talor. He’s a super guy and has a lot of game. It’s just a matter of time for him.”

For Andrew Landry, the time is now.