BOB WEST ON GOLF — Landry returns to scene of his greatest PGA success

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Every other year Andrew Landry delivers something special in the tournament currently identified as the American Express Championship. It’s why the event in LaQuinta, Calif., which for years was known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic, is responsible for roughly 30 percent of Landry’s $7,102,560 in career PGA Tour earnings.

Back in January of 2018, when he was still trying to establish himself, the Port Neches-Groves ex made a spirited run at his first victory. He birdied the 72nd hole to tie world No. 2 Jon Rahm at 22 under, barely missed a winning birdie putt on the second playoff hole, then saw Rahm prevail with a birdie three holes later.

Though he didn’t win, by not blinking in a pressure-packed situation against the guy being billed as the world’s next great player, Landry signaled that he’d arrived. Three months later he grabbed that first victory in San Antonio. Then, in January of 2020, he walked off with the championship trophy that Rahm snatched away in the California desert.

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Making the moment headshaking was that Andrew had missed five consecutive cuts and seven of eight before going on a 31-birdie tear that left him at 26-under. Runner-up Abraham Ancer, another rising star, was two shots back. Landry walked away with a check for $1,206,000 and the security of being vested in the tour’s lucrative retirement program.

The Pea Patch alum had signed off on rounds of 66-64-65-67 over the three courses that make up the rotation for what is a Pebble Beach style pro-am. He’d done it a week after looking completely lost while shooting 76-77 in the Sony Open.

“Something clicked in the Wednesday pro-am,” he would later explain. “I made one adjustment with my right knee, going back to a swing thought I had while winning the Valero. Almost immediately everything fell into place. I just started hitting everything pure.”

So here we are two years later in the third week in January, back in LaQuinta. In 2021, in his championship defense, Landry muddled his way to a T64. With no spectators and no amateurs allowed due to COVID restrictions, and the format changed to only one course being played, he could do no better than one under. In the process, he boosted career earnings in this one event to $1,896,823.

Since missed cuts followed by wins have shown it’s difficult to predict how Landry is going to play in any given week, there is no use trying to project what will happen this week. In six starts during the 2021 portion of the season, he’s missed four of six cuts including the last two.

Typical of Landry, however, the other two tournaments saw him deliver top 10s – a T4 in the Sanderson Farms and a T7 in the Mayakoba Classic. That has him sitting at 47th in Fed Ex points, with earnings of $498,700.

Noteworthy is that the American Express is back to its three-course and pro-am formats. Also noteworthy is that a second PNG ex, Chris Stroud, will be getting his fifth start of the season as he attempts a comeback from serious back issues.

CHIP SHOTS: Carl Cross of Kountze scored the first Zaharias hole in one of 2022 and it was one that left his playing partners alternately cheering and shaking their heads. Cross got his first ace on Zaharias’ 108-yard, 7th hole.

The rest of the story is that the tee shot was pushed way right, hit a rake in the sand trap at the front of the green, then rebounded left and rolled until the cup got in the way. Witnesses were Richard Menchaca, Rusty Hicks and Danny Robbins.

Wadsworth Thompson of Groves also scored an ace on the 7th at Zaharias but it wasn’t nearly as exciting. Playing into the teeth of a strong wind, Thompson struck at 8-iron 120 yards into the cup. It was his second ace. Witnesses were Dale Williams and Mike Jones.

In the Monday Senior 50-plus game 2 ball at Babe Zaharias, there was a two-way tie for first. Posting 3 over was the team of Kenny Robbins, Hicks, Keith Marshall and Darrell Mouille and the foursome of Gerald Huebel, Joe Gongora, Rufus Reyes and Dan Flood.

Winning the back outright with plus 1 was the foursome of Ted Freeman, John House, Larry Johnson and Dwayne Benoit.

The Friday 2 ball at Zaharias saw the team of Earl Richard, Bob Luttrull, Dan Chandler and Larry Foster win the front with minus 2. On the back, the team of Freeman, John Jessen, Johnson and John LeBlanc prevailed with minus 3.

Closest to the pin winners were Doug LeBlanc (No. 2), Cross (No. 7), Ron Mistrot (N. 12) and Lee Bertrand (No. 15).

The Wednesday, Jan. 12 DogFight was played in an all-points count format. Winning with 28 points was the team of Rick Pritchett, Greg Theriot, Lonnie Mosley and a ghost player. Second with 26 points was the foursome of Gary Whitfill, Johnson, Butch Cross and Paul Duplant.

Closest to the pin winners were Brad Royer (No. 2), Hicks (No. 7) and Harrell Guidry (No. 12, No. 15).

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