Landry triumphs in Texas for maiden PGA Tour title
It was 32nd time lucky for Andrew Landry as he held his nerve on the back nine on Sunday to secure a first PGA Tour title of his career at the Valero Texas Open.
In 31 previous PGA Tour starts, Landry had never entered the winner’s circle – losing a play-off to Jon Rahm at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January was the closest he had come – but seven straight pars to finish his final round was enough to break the duck.
The 30-year-old finished on 17-under at the AT&T Oaks Course, two shots clear of Sean O’Hair and Trey Mullinax, while the expected Sunday charge from 2015 Champion Golfer of the Year Zach Johnson never materialised.
Near misses provide experience
Landry’s victory in San Antonio wasn’t just his first professional victory, it saw the native Texan finally shed the tag of nearly man.
While playing college golf at Arkansas, he reached the 2009 NCAA Championship and rallied from four holes down with five to play before losing his match to Texas A&M’s Bronson Burgoon on the 18th.
In his only major championship start to date – the 2016 US Open at Oakmont – he played sublimely to earn a spot in the final pairing on Sunday but shot 78 to drop into a tie for 15th.
What an incredible week at @valerotxopen Thank YOU to everyone who helped make this happen. A week I'll never forget! 🏆@pgatour @pingtour @titleist @oxford1942 #LiveUnderPar pic.twitter.com/fmH3yvIpgu— Andrew Landry Golf (@andrewlgolf) April 22, 2018
Then there was Rahm birdieing the fourth extra hole at the CareerBuilder Challenge earlier this year to lengthen his wait for a maiden title but all those near misses only made this victory all the sweeter.
“I think that all those kinds of things really help every player whenever you get in a situation and you fail and you continue to fail,” Landry said. “You’re learning every single time."
“There was losing in that play-off [to Rahm] when I was continuing to hit good shot after good shot, just not making any putts. Normally that’s a strength of my game. Now here we are, a winner.”
Johnson fades on final day
As a two-time major winner – he won the 2007 Masters in addition to his Open Championship success at St Andrew’s three summers ago – Johnson was by far the most-experienced name towards the top end of the leaderboard heading into Sunday.
However, the 42-year-old failed to find his best golf over the final 18 – shooting level par on the front nine and bogeying the 11th to fall out of contention, eventually finishing solo fifth, four shots back.
Contrastingly, Landry recovered from a bogey on the 12th that left him just one stroke clear of Mullinax to notch seven straight pars, enough to lift the trophy.
And while disappointed, Johnson claims there is still more to come from him. “Obviously I’m not very pleased with the day,” he said. “I had some opportunities early I let go. I still really do feel my best golf is in front of me, but I know what I’ve got to clean up.”
Levy makes it a famous five in Morocco
Meanwhile in Morocco, another leader was holding off the pack as Alexander Levy won a fifth European Tour title by claiming the Trophee Hassan II.
The Frenchman – who failed to make the cut in his two Open appearances in 2015 and 2017 – shot a final-round 70 to end on eight-under, one stroke clear of overnight leader Alvaro Quiros.
Levy raced into the lead on Sunday, although his advantage deteriorated somewhat when he bogeyed 16 before recovering with a birdie at 17 and a par at the par-five 18th.
Most wins by a Frenchman on tour:— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) April 22, 2018
Levet - 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆
Levy - 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆
Jacquelin - 🏆🏆🏆🏆
Bourdy - 🏆🏆🏆🏆 pic.twitter.com/8i14w0m1o4
That left final pairing Quiros and Mikko Ilonen requiring an eagle at 18 to force a play-off and although the Spaniard hit birdie, it wasn’t enough to stop the 27-year-old claiming his first title in 12 months.
“This feels so good,” said Levy. “I'm a little bit tired now because it was really tough but I did a really good job. For me, I played an amazing game and I'm so happy to win this trophy. I said at the start of the season, I need to improve my game. I need to work a lot, but I worked a lot over the last two days, two weeks, and I won this trophy.”