GOLF: Landry one stroke behind Players leaders

Published 8:23 pm Thursday, May 10, 2018

As one of 20 PGA Tour players in the running for a spot on the 2018 United States Ryder Cup team, Andrew Landry was invited to spend Wednesday evening at the Ponte Vedre Beach, Florida, home of U.S. captain Jim Furyk.

With vice captains Davis Love III and Tiger Woods in attendance, Furyk provided dinner and a pep talk.
Duly inspired, Landry strongly stated his Ryder Cup case less than 24 hours later on the opening day of the Players Championship.
In his first official trip around TPC Sawgrass, Landry played one of those near flawless rounds he’s becoming noted for, shooting a bogey free, five-under-par 67. It left him tied for seventh place, one shot behind a six-man contingent at 66 that included Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar.
“It was a big deal to spend time with Jim and all the great players who have a shot to make the Ryder Cup team,” said Landry. “It definitely got my juices flowing. I would love to be on that team and a big week here would certainly help.”
Landry, three weeks removed from his first PGA Tour victory, was super steady on Thursday, hitting 15 of 18 greens in regulation and tying for third in accuracy off the tee. Only once did he have to scramble for a par, rolling in an 8-footer on the par 4, 15th.
He birdied three of the four par 5s and had three birdies inside 4 feet. His other birdies were from 12 feet and 21 feet. The round was eerily similar to low stress, bogey free efforts when he finished second in the CareerBuilder Championship and won the Valero Texas Open.
“The golf course really fits my eye and suites my game,” Landry said. “You have to drive it straight and have a good short game. I put myself in a lot of good positions. It reminded me a lot of the way things went in San Antonio.”
Landry wasn’t the only player with a Pea Patch background who played well Thursday. Fellow PNG ex Chris Stroud carded four birdies and two bogeys on the way to a two-under-par 70. Stroud, who has a history of doing well in the Players, is tied for 40th.
Landry, meanwhile, can enhance more than his Ryder Cup chances with a high finish in the event known as the 5th major. He is currently 12th in Fed Ex points and No. 66 in the Official World Golf Rankings. A top five, or even a top 10, would boost both numbers and open more doors for him.
Although it didn’t have an impact on his score, one of the highlights for Landry on Thursday was being immediately behind the feature pairing of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler. Let it be noted he beat them by five, seven and 12 strokes, respectively.
“It was pretty cool following that group,” said Landry. “Tiger made an eagle on nine and the roar was incredible. We were standing on the 17th tee watching him putt out and I told one of the guys in our group that it was neat to be watching a legend in a competitive round.”
Landry won’t have long to reflect on his strong start. He’ll be back on the course at 7:38 Texas time Friday morning, looking to take up where he left off Thursday afternoon.

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