Landry, Scheffler ahead of the pack at The American Express
January 18, 2020
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
Andrew Landry interview after Round 3 of The American Express
LA QUINTA, Calif. – Scottie Scheffler and Andrew Landry have separated themselves from the field at The American Express, but the Stadium Course at PGA West was designed to encourage big swings in scoring.
At 21 under par, Scheffler and Landry are four shots ahead of Rickie Fowler, who sits alone in third place. Only two more players – Ryan Moore and Chase Seiffert – sit within five strokes.
The co-leaders can’t take their eye off those pursuers, though. The Stadium Course was the 10th-easiest course on TOUR last season but also allowed a double-bogey or worse on 2.2% of the holes played. That was the 15th-highest rate on TOUR last season.
“If you’re not on your game, you can really struggle,” Scheffler said.
This is a course, after all, that TOUR players revolted against when it was first played in 1987. The late Pete Dye was ordered to make this Stadium Course, the Western version of his masterpiece at TPC Sawgrass, “the hardest damn golf course in the world.” It may no longer hold that title, but water still comes into play on several holes, including the island-green 17th and penal, par-4 18th.
The two co-leaders have taken drastically different paths to the final group. Scheffler, last year’s Korn Ferry Tour Player of the Year, has made a quick transition to the TOUR. He has five top-25s in seven starts this season, including three top-10s. He’s 24th in the FedExCup standings.
Weekend scoring has been his only weakness. He leads the TOUR in first-round scoring (66.7) and ranks 12th in second-round scoring. He’s outside the top 100 in each of the final two rounds, though.
Scheffler is only 23, though, and each experience has made him more comfortable.
“I think this is my best chance, being tied for the lead going into the last round. I've gotten off to some good starts but I haven't been in this position going into the final round. I feel like I've been chasing,” Scheffler said. “It will be nice to be up there near the lead and it will be a fun day.”
Saturday was the third time this season that he teed off with at least a share of the 36-hole lead. He couldn’t keep pace the first two times, falling to fifth place both times. This will be the first 54-hole lead of his career.
Landry, on the other hand, hasn’t played much on weekends lately. He’s missed the cut in seven of eight starts, and was 5 over par for the season entering this week. That included a 13-over-par performance at last week’s Sony Open in Hawaii, where his rusty game – he was sick before making his 2020 debut – got caught up in the high winds. He is 178th in the FedExCup.
Landry has one PGA TOUR win, at the 2018 Valero Texas Open, and one strong performance at this event to draw upon. He was runner-up two years ago after pushing Jon Rahm in a playoff. Rahm finally ended it by holing a 12-footer for birdie on the fourth extra hole.
Landry, playing in the final group, holed an 11-foot birdie putt on 18 to force the playoff. Landry also had an 8-footer for the win on the second extra hole and an 11-footer to extend the playoff, but missed both putts.
He also finished T28 at this event last year. He’s 58 under par in his last 11 rounds in this event, dating back to the first round two years ago. Ten of those rounds have been in the 60s.
“We build our schedule around golf courses that fit us. So this is one of them, it fits me,” Landry said Saturday. “I enjoy coming out here.”
A win would make him love it even more.
Scheffler, Landry tied for the lead at The American Express