BOB WEST — Andrew Landry hoping to get past shoulder issues in PGA return

Published 12:08 am Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The U.S. Open always brings a smile and a warm, fuzzy feeling to Andrew Landry, even when he’s not playing. And why shouldn’t it?

In 2016, as the proverbial “unknown” with a world ranking of 624, the Port Neches-Groves ex stunned the golf world with a 66 in the first round at Oakmont. Never in nine previous Opens played at the storied Pennsylvania course had a player gone as low as 66 in round one.

Not Tiger. Not Jack. Not Arnie. Not Ben. Not Byron. Nobody. Landry gamely hung around the top of the leaderboard all week. He was one shot behind Dustin Johnson at the 36-hole mark and was paired in the final twosome with 54-hole leader Shane Lowry on Sunday.

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The final round, similar to what happened to Port Arthuran Marty Fleckman, who shot a closing 80 after holding the 54-hole Open lead as an amateur in 1967, did not go well. Landry stumbled to a front nine 42 enroute to a 78 that left him tied for 15th.

It was still a major victory. Fighting his way into the final twosome on U.S. Open Sunday was a sign that Landry could hang with the big boys. It was also what he calls one of his coolest experiences in golf.

“I was in the middle of everything in the final round of a U.S. Open,” he recalled. “Dustin Johnson was in the group behind us and making his move. Shane was struggling with his putter. I absorbed it all coming down the stretch. It was just so cool to be in the middle of that.”

That was then, this is now. Landry, who since that 2016 coming out party, has two wins, 11 top 10s and $6.5 million in career earnings, is battling a curious injury in both shoulders which has had sidelined for 14 weeks. He’d hoped to come back last month at Colonial, then pain returned worse than before.

“Once I started pushing myself to get tournament ready, things got worse,” he said. “I went to a different surgeon to get a second opinion. He told me to take two weeks off, then we’d start physical therapy, then work on stretches and building strength. It seems to be working.”

With Mathew Fitzpatrick’s thrilling U.S. Open in the rear-view mirror, Landry will learn how far he’s come starting with Thursday’s first round of the Traveler’s Championship. Anxiety is a given.

Andrew isn’t quite sure what to expect, other than occasional pain from a medical condition termed a shoulder impingement. Certain sudden movements, like a golf swing or reaching out for a cold beer, can make him flinch. He never knows when to expect it.

“When it happens in the left shoulder it’s about hip high in my swing,” he advised. “As I make a turn, it’s more from the top down in the right shoulder. It’s almost like having a pinched nerve. You are waiting for it but it doesn’t always happen. I am getting better at dealing with it.”

None of the doctors he’s worked with can tell him for sure what caused the issue. And this is where it really gets weird. Landry says one of the root problems is apparently how he’s slept for many, many years. Part of his rehab is a new sleeping position.

“I have always slept on my side with my hands above my head,” he explained. “Or my back with hands above my head. Or my stomach with hands over my head. Evidently, that’s part of the problem. So is hitting thousands of balls for so many years. I have to dial that back.”

Landry’s intentions are not to just play a tournament here and there. Still No. 151 on the Fed Ex Cup points list, thanks to a T4 and a T7 early in the year, he hopes to play six of the next seven events.

“I am going to have to manage what I do for a couple of weeks and just get acclimated,” he allows. “But I think I can make cuts and be competitive. I’m not counting anything out, but I will probably need a couple of weeks to get into a good rhythm.”

He’ll also need to keep those hands down when sleeping.

CHIP SHOTS: Vincent Mazzola of Beaumont fired a two-under-par 70 Monday to win Boys 15-18 in the Southern Texas PGA Junior Tour stop at Wildwood. Other flight winners were Tatum Bean of Groves (86 in Girls 15-18), Brayden Akers of Livingston (79 in Boys 13-14) and Austin Irwin of Lumberton (44 in Junior Links Boys 15-18).

On June 14, Julian Mathews of Beaumont carded a 77 to win the Junior Tour event at Henry Homberg. Other winners were Bean (89 in Girls 15-18), Corbin Busby of Lumberton (51 in Junior Links 15-18), Annie Whitehead of Lumberton (42 in Junior Links Girls 13-14) and Dylan Hanato of Houston (36 in Little Linksters Boys 9-10).

In the Monday Senior 50 Plus 2 ball at Babe Zaharias, the team of Jim Cady, Ted Freeman, Ron Mistrot and Dan Harrington scored a sweep, posting minus 6 on the front and minus 4 on the back. Mistrot, who is 74, shot his age for the first time.

Closest to the pin winners were Gary Anderson on 2, Charles Leard on 7 Rick Pritchett on 12 and Brian Mirabella on 15.

The Super Saturday Senior 2 ball saw the team of Bill Hanley, Cap Hollier, Don MacNeil and Rufus Reyes take the front with minus 3. On the back, the foursome of Earl Richard, Troy Touchet, Lonnie Mosley and Dwayne Benoit prevailed with minus 5.

In the Friday Senior 2 ball, the team of Hanley, Glenn Judice, Dan Chandler and Glenn Knight won the front with minus 1. That number also took the back for the team of Richard, Harrell Guidry, Mistrot and Keith Marshall.

Dan Flood on 2 and Cap Hollier on 7 and 15 won closest to pin.

The Wednesday Zaharias DogFight was played in an all points count format. Placing first with 32 points was the foursome of James Smith, Gary Fontenot, Caleb Klein and Buddy Elmore. Teams captained by Hollier, Ed Holley, Cady and Doug LeBlanc tied for second with 26 .

Closest to the pin winners were Buddy Elmore on 2, Richard on 7, Jeff Rinehart on 12 and Ron LaSalle on 15.