After what it took to get here, Landry isn't done

By Ryan LavnerJune 21, 2016, 6:30 pm

OAKMONT, Pa. – The underdog story of the 116th U.S. Open ended abruptly, just like they all do in the game’s most unforgiving major.

By the end of the grueling final rounds, there are no warm, fuzzy feelings, no feel-good long-shots still beaming. It’s why “The Greatest Game Every Played,” the story of amateur Francis Ouimet’s stunning U.S. Open victory, was based on events from 1913 – or before there were claustrophobic fairways, shoe-swallowing rough and pool-table greens. The U.S. Open, and Oakmont in particular, is cruel that way.

Andrew Landry understands that now, of course. Playing in the final group, trying to become the first since Ouimet to win the U.S. Open in his major debut, the 28-year-old Texan closed with a birdie-less 78. It was the second-worst score of any player in the top 58.

Still, Landry said in the locker room later, “It’s obviously one of the greatest moments of my life right now, but I deserve to be here. I feel like I will be here multiple times for the rest of my career, and I feel like I’ll contend again.”

No player in the field epitomized the blue-collar attitude of this city and tournament like Landry, the 624th-ranked player in the world who grew up in Groves, Texas, a small, middle-class suburb of Beaumont. He learned the game at a shoddy nine-hole track four houses down called The Pea Patch, the second-oldest course in the state, described by friends as a goat track with a bar. There was long, gnarly St. Augustine grass and piles of dirt just off the green. Every Tuesday and Saturday, in a game similar to Oakmont’s famed SWAT competition, locals headed out for five holes, scribbled down their scores on a chalkboard, played the last four holes and waited to see how they stacked up. Those games are just memories now: The Pea Patch was shuttered in 2015 and, according to a local news report, will soon be converted into a gated community.

“When you grow up like that, without that country-club lifestyle,” Landry’s college coach, Brad McMakin, said by phone, “he’s had to fight and work and scratch for everything he’s gotten.”

Landry’s father, Dwain, was a courier for FedEx for 30 years, while his mother, Patricia, was a schoolteacher in town. Traveling the country on the AJGA circuit wasn’t an option, so Landry cobbled together a schedule full of junior events within driving distance.

“When his parents showed up, I knew he’d play well,” McMakin said. “They put him first. Their vacations were to go watch him play. They made a commitment to him and his game. It means a lot to Andrew, because he knows everybody has put their life on hold for him.”

And yet, Landry received zero recruiting letters coming out of high school. The only reason he signed with McMakin at Lamar was because Chris Stroud, now a fellow PGA Tour player, knew of him from some of the local tournaments and thought his gritty game would be a good fit.

After one year at Lamar, Landry followed McMakin to Arkansas, where he helped spark a stagnant program. In three seasons in Fayetteville, Landry earned the most top-10s in school history while practicing every day at Blessings Golf Club, a big, brawny track that is widely regarded as one of the most difficult college courses in the country.

“He always played tough courses great,” said PGA Tour winner David Lingmerth, who was teammates with Landry from 2008-10. “Very straight, pure ball-striker. He’s got a lot of game.”

By the end of his senior season, Landry was ranked inside the top 50 in the country. “He was no superstar at all,” McMakin said, “but his golf game caught up to his mindset and attitude. When that happens, you get a complete player.”

Landry and Lingmerth were part of the Razorbacks team that reached the finals of the 2009 NCAA Championship at Inverness. Landry was getting smoked in the anchor match against Texas A&M’s Bronson Burgoon, 4 down with six to play, but he squared the match heading to 18. On the home hole, he could only watch as Burgoon stuffed his approach shot within a foot – one of the most dramatic shots in college golf history – to seal the title for the Aggies.

“There were no tears,” McMakin said. “He told me: ‘That’s part of golf, Coach.’”

Like many college All-Americans, Landry struggled to find his footing in the professional ranks, bouncing around the mini-tours before landing on the circuit.

Said his older brother, Adam: “I always wanted to call up the tournament directors and say, ‘I know you don’t know who he is, but if you let him in the field, he’ll make a name for himself.’”

Last spring, before Landry headed to Cartagena, Columbia, he had only $1,500 in his checking account. He put down $500 on an engagement ring for his longtime girlfriend, Elizabeth, and then won for the first time to clinch his PGA Tour card.

Landry’s first season in the big leagues has been a struggle. Forget about top-10s – he didn’t even have a finish inside the top 40 in 11 starts. With only nine regular-season events remaining, he was in jeopardy of losing his playing privileges; at No. 203 in FedEx Cup points, he was only a few spots higher than 58-year-old Bernhard Langer.

“A lot of people think that if you’re not 22 years old on Tour, you’re nobody,” McMakin said. “But he’s gone the path of a normal kid. He’s on a pretty good pace. A lot of times, it takes time.”

Landry finally arrived at Oakmont, opening with a 4-under 66, the lowest first-round score in an Open here. He followed it up with rounds of 71-70 and showed plenty of perseverance, reversing course after an outward 39 in the second round, then rallying with back-to-back birdies after a slow open following an early-morning restart in the third round. Entering the final round he was in a tie for second, four shots behind Shane Lowry, but Open Sundays tend to chew up and spit out those who aren’t ready.

Jason Gore in 2005.

Aaron Baddeley here in 2007.

Even Dustin Johnson in 2010.

Add Landry’s name to the list, after his swing and body got out of sync, he went out in 42 and he crashed to a tie for 15th.

Walking down the 18th fairway, with Dustin Johnson holing the winning putt up ahead, Landry allowed himself to take in the scene.

“I was like, ‘Man, I wish I could just take a picture of this,’ because it’s the coolest view for a player,” he said. “It was pretty awesome to watch, to be there first-hand be in the moment.”

And though it was, by far, the best finish of his young career – the $152,234 paycheck representing 69 percent of his total earnings this season – it was a costly few hours. He is still ranked 182nd in FedEx Cup points, still well outside the top-125 cut line, still in danger of being sent back to the minor leagues.

Afterward, as he removed his sunglasses, bounded down the steps of the clubhouse and loudly exhaled, it was clear that the U.S. Open and Oakmont hadn’t broken the underdog.

“It’s just been awesome,” Landry said. “I’m taking this as a positive. I’ve been in this situation now, so I’m going to learn from it.”

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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.