By Sam McPherson
In January, Andrew Landry just missed winning his first PGA Tour event when he lost on the fourth hole of sudden death to Spain’s Jon Rahm at the CareerBuilder Challenge in Palm Springs, California. On Sunday in San Antonio at the Valero Texas Open, however, Landry made sure there would be no playoff, as he shot a closing-round 68 to finish 17-under par and clinch that elusive first Tour victory.
Landry was the only golfer in the tournament to card all four rounds in the 60s on the TPC San Antonio Oaks Course, and as a result, he finished two shots ahead of runners-up Trey Mullinax and Sean O’Hair. Jimmy Walker finished three shots off the lead. Landry was tied for the lead after the third round with Zach Johnson, who struggled on Sunday and finished four strokes back in fifth place. All five top finishers are American golfers, the first time that has happened since the Genesis Open in February.
O’Hair shot the low round on Sunday, posting a 66 to move up three spots on the leaderboard; Walker shot a 67 in the fourth round to move up one spot. But Landry’s steady hand won the day and the event. He started off right away on the first three holes, too, making birdie on each to break his tie with Johnson and own the top spot for the entire round. He added a birdie on the sixth hole and then cruised home on the back nine, shooting even par.
With the victory, Landry took home the $1.116 million winner’s prize, and he is projected to move up 33 places to ninth place overall in the FedExCup standings. His overall score was the lowest at this event since 2008, when Johnson won the first of two straight Texas Opens with a 19-under effort. Johnson was looking to become just the third man in PGA Tour history to win this event three times, but he made four bogeys on Sunday which erased a four-birdie effort on the scorecard.
First-round leader Grayson Murray finished 72-73 over the weekend after starting strong with a 67-69 effort. His Saturday and Sunday struggles left him in a tie for 16th place at 7-under, while Ryan Moore also saw a promising start turn into a grind over the weekend. His 68-67 on Thursday and Friday seemed to position him well, but Moore closed with 70-72 over the weekend to finish in seventh place with an 11-under total.
Next On The Tee: Zurich Classic of New Orleans
The PGA Tour stays in the South this week, heading east to TPC of Louisiana for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. This event, held in Avondale, is unique, as it features a team format. Eighty teams of two golfers compete in a stroke-play format, with alternate-shot play on Thursday and Saturday, combined with best-ball play on Friday and Sunday. The top 35 teams make the cut, including ties. The defending champions are Sweden’s Jonas Blixt and Australia’s Cameron Smith. They combined for 27-under par in last year’s event before winning the title in a playoff against Americans Scott Brown and Kevin Kisner.
Those two twosomes will be back in 2018, and the field promises to make this an exciting change-of-pace event in the spring stretch of the PGA Tour season. Landry will go for a second-straight victory, as the Zurich Classic does grant FedExCup points as well as tour exemptions. It just does not count toward world rankings, and no Masters invitation is awarded to the top finishers. The Texas Open champ is partnered with Talor Gooch, while Johnson is also playing this week with teammate Jonathan Byrd.
Fan favorites Matt Kuchar and Bubba Watson are paired together, while O’Hair and Walker look to continue their success another week on Tour, this time together on the same squad. Europeans Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson are playing together in what is sure to be a formidable pair, and Jordan Spieth is playing with Ryan Palmer. Masters champion Patrick Reed returns to action with his partner, Patrick Cantlay, as well.
Pete Dye designed the TPC of Louisiana track, with some input from 1995 PGA Championship winner Steve Elkington. Opening in 2004, the course features an exciting and interesting combination of closing holes, as the 355-yard, par-4 16th hole leads into the 215-yard, par-3 17th and the 585-yard, par-5 final hole. To win this event, golfers need to be consistently good with all their clubs down the stretch.
The TPC of Louisiana Course plays 7,425 yards long and is a par 72.
Favorites: Kuchar/Watson, O’Hair/Walker, Rose/Stenson
Teams to Watch: Blixt/Smith, Reed/Cantlay, Spieth/Palmer
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf and fantasy sports for CBS Local. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach. Follow him on Twitter @sxmcp, because he’s quite prolific despite also being a college English professor and a certified copy editor.