BOB WEST ON GOLF — Landry makes statement with T4 after badly missed cut

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Coming off what he called his worst year on the PGA Tour, then starting the 2021-22 season with rounds of 77-77 in the Fortinet Classic left Andrew Landry in a serious funk. And it no doubt left his fans in Southeast Texas fearing that the 34-year-old might be about to go into somewhat of a free fall.

Fret no more!

In a remarkable rebound similar to missing a 2018 cut at the Sony Open with rounds of 77-76, then shocking the golf world by winning the American Express Championship the next week, Landry has seemingly risen from the ashes again. A T4 that could well have been a victory this past weekend at the Sanderson Farms Championship suggests there is plenty left in the tank.

Landry, after opening with rounds of 68-68, shot 66-66 on the weekend, was briefly tied for the lead on the back nine on Sunday and was a bad break on the 17th hole away from possibly delivering another shocker. Ultimately, his 20-under total of 268 was two shots off Sam Burns’ record-setting winning pace and pointed him toward the Shriner’s Classic this week in Las Vegas riding a wave of optimism.

“It is amazing how much difference a couple of weeks made,” he said, during a layover in Dallas Sunday night. “I feel so good about my game right now. I expect to play well in Las Vegas. Something had to change after that first tournament. I played so bad and went home feeling so stupid about the way I prepared.

“I had worked into some bad habits and couldn’t get out of them.”

Once Landry got back to Austin his instructor, Chuck Cook, sat him down for a heart-to-heart talk. Cook told his pupil they needed to figure some things out, starting with getting back to some swing basics that he’d gradually gotten away from.

“For some reason last year, probably chasing distance, I was hitting a draw instead of just trying to play the hold-off fade that had worked so well for me in the past,” Landry explained. “Chuck and I worked hard on that, and hard on getting the shaft to where I was trying to stay on top of the ball, trying to get the club to exit a bit more left and trying to get more depth in my backswing.

“I would get a lesson one day, work on what we went over the next, go back for a lesson the next day, practice for a day, then take another lesson. I rested on Saturday and Sunday, then picked off where we left off when I got to Mississippi. It was intense and I think it was a turning point. I am striving to get back to what I was doing so well in 2018.”

As evidenced by a myriad of stats, particularly his putting, a lot of things fell into place. For the week, Landry was fifth in greens hit in regulation (58), sixth in strokes gained putting, fourth in driving accuracy, 10th in strokes gained approach and fifth in strokes gained total. It added up to a $290,000 payday.

“I did a lot of things well,” he said, “and I really putted well. I didn’t go over there with the expectations that I was ready to contend but about the middle of the third round I started thinking this could be a special week. I was hitting fairways and greens and making those 6-to-10 footers you need to keep things going. When that happens, your confidence builds.”

On his way to a Saturday 66, Landry rolled in 123 feet of birdie putts, including bombs from 44, 26 and 34 feet. He was still four shots back going into Sunday, but an eagle on the third hole got the juices flowing. He would make the turn in five-under 31 and narrowly missed an eagle putt on the 11th for the outright lead.

There would be a couple more near miss birdies on the way in, and the horrible break on 17 when his ball missed the fairway by about a foot and wound up nestled in a hole. He hit a remarkable second to the front of the green, but the shot was a flier that rolled all the way over, down an embankment and into the rough. It led to a bogey and took him out of contention.

“That was really unfortunate,” he said, “but that’s golf. So many good things happened that I’m not going to dwell on a bad break. I proved some things to myself that I needed to see. I am so far from where I was in that first tournament. I was mentally screwed and in a bad frame of mind. Now I can’t wait to keep it going.”

Landry could even joke about one of the tournament stats that was totally out of character for him. His 369-yard drive on the 18th hole Saturday was the fourth longest of the week. So, should Bryson DeChambeau be looking over his shoulder?

“No way,” he laughed. “That ball bounced on the cart path seven times. I couldn’t believe it when I got to it and saw how close to the green I was.”

CHIP SHOTS: A week of steady rain washed out all the daily games at Babe Zaharias, as well as a charity tournament on Saturday. Things started getting back to normal on Monday with the Senior 50 Plus 2 ball.

Playing a par-4 fomat due to wet conditions, the team of Kenny Robbins, Tony Trevino, Jimmy Schexnider and Larry Foster won the front with minus 12. On the back, the foursome of Bill Hanley, Rufus Reyes, Bob Luttrull and Dan Flood won with minus 11.

Closest to the pin winners were James Vercher (No. 2, No. 12), Robbins (No. 7) and Art Turner (No. 15)

Golf news should be e-mailed to rdwest@usa.net.