GOLF: Landry goes 63, ties Spaun for lead at Quicken Loans National

Published 6:56 pm Thursday, June 28, 2018

On Monday, Andrew Landry assured a writer that he wasn’t overly alarmed by the 81 he shot last week at the Travelers Championship and that he wouldn’t be surprised if he played well in Tiger Woods’ Quicken Loans National.

Three days later, the Port Neches-Groves ex backed up his words by firing an opening round seven-under par 63. That left him tied atop the leaderboard with J.J. Spaun at the TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm in Potomac, Maryland.

Landry made it look ridiculously easy with a scorecard that showed seven birdies and 11 pars. Only once did have have to scramble, getting a tough bunker shot up and down on the par 4, 16th. Having started on the back, it was his seventh hole of the day and kept early momentum going.

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“It was a difficult shot and I still had to make a six footer to save par,” he said.  “I started great and didn’t want to lose momentum. Other than that hole, it was an outstanding round of golf on a tough course. I could have gone lower, but missed a couple of putts I should have made.”

Landry, in matching his low round of the season shot in the CareerBuilder Championship, birdied his first two holes and four of the first six. He turned in 31, then added birdies at the par 5, second, the par 4, sixth and the par 4, eighth.

His 63 was eight shots better than tourney host Woods, one lower than last year’s winning score of six under and was the lowest number posted in the two years the event has been played at TPC Potomac until Spaun matched it late in the day.

It was only Landry’s fourth score in the 60s in 14 rounds since he closed with a 68 to win the Valero Texas Open in April. He said his problems since then have been a mixed bag of poorly executed shots, with the biggest concern being errant iron shots.

He also suggested that he’d put too much pressure on himself thinking about the Ryder Cup and other big time perks that were within reach. He hinted he wasn’t getting the fun and enjoyment a player having a blockbuster year should, and was intent on changing that.

“In a way it sounds stupid, but I have been beating myself up lately over my play, while I’m in the middle of the best year of my career,” he said. “Truth is, I have had an awesome year and I have to enjoy it and get back to having fun again. That was one of my goals this week.”

Landry, who has a first, a second and a fourth on his resume in the 2017-18 season, said the 81 he shot last week may well have been a turning point.

“I went out the next day knowing I couldn’t make the cut and figuring I could work on some things and just have a good time. I shot a 67, then came here on Sunday and got in a lot of work on the course and on my game. If I had not gotten in the extra rounds here, I probably would not have shot 63.

“I figured out a little something with my irons. When I am hitting my irons well, I usually play well and that’s what happened today. I am looking forward to the rest of the week, but I am not going to get ahead of myself thinking about the Ryder Cup and the British Open and other stuff that would come to me if I win again.”

Two players are within a shot of Landry and Spaun with 64s, two others shot 65 and three more were at 65. Scores, however, are expected to go higher the next three days, as a course that was one of the toughest on the PGA Tour last year firms up.

While it was a banner day for Landry, the news was not as good for Chris Stroud. The fellow Groves native was on his way to being among the leaders after playing the first 14 holes in four under. But he went bogey, double bogey, bogey, bogey and signed for a one-over-par 71 that is tied for 68th.

Landry, who has an afternoon tee time on Friday, figures to get plenty of TV exposure if he continues to play well. The Golf Channel telecast starts at 2 p.m.