SAN ANTONIO – Despite what you may think, Andrew Landry said he was not nervous when he missed two short birdie putts on the back nine of the Valero Texas Open that could have proved costly – but ultimately didn’t.
After a two-shot swing on the 11th hole – a Landry bogey and a Trey Mullinax birdie – cut Landry’s lead to a single stroke, the Texas native appeared ready to gain back a stroke when his approach at the par-4 12th set up a putt from 4 feet, 11 inches.
But after missing the putt left, Landry and caddie Terry Walker stayed behind after completing the hole to examine exactly what happened.
“I just completely misread it,” Landry said. “In the book, it was showing two percent slope straight left to right, and the putt never broke.”
Two holes later, at the par-5 14th, Landry had an even closer birdie putt, this time from inside 4 feet. Mullinax, meanwhile, had played himself out of a birdie opportunity with a second shot that left him with a difficult lie in the bunker.
But Mullinax did well to blast out and two-putt from 41 feet to save par, and Landry let him off the hook with a miss to the right.
“A complete lack of focus,” Landry said. “That’s all it was. It wasn’t that I was nervous at all. I never honestly felt nerves until my third shot going into 18.”
By then, Landry led by two strokes and could afford a moment of nervousness. He had parred his last seven holes and forced somebody to chase him down. No one could.
So now that he’s got that first win, will the floodgates open?
“I hope it does,” Landry said. “I hope it opens up for a bazillion of them.”
A rollercoaster front nine proved costly for Trey Mullinax, the big-hitting 25-year-old who was also seeking his first TOUR win after setting the course-record on Saturday with a 62. Mullinax had three birdies and two bogeys in his first six holes, then settled down and did well to close the gap on Landry. “I didn’t take care of the par 5s on the back, which I think hurt a little bit,” he said after settling for pars for on the 14th and 18th holes to shoot a final-round 69 and a tie for second with Sean O’Hair.
Zach Johnson, the 12-time TOUR winner, never really applied the kind of heat he was hoping to against his less-credentialed playing partners in the final group. Johnson, who won the Valero Texas Open twice on a different course, played the front nine in even par and then bogeyed the 11th. At that point, he was five shots behind. He eventually finished in solo fifth after an even-par 72. “Obviously not very pleased with the day,” Johnson said. “I had some opportunities early I let go.”
Sean O’Hair’s final-round 66 was the best of the day. He was 5 under through 10 holes but suffered a couple of bogeys that kept him from forcing a playoff. He ended by chipping in for birdie on the final hole for the seventh runner-up finish of his career. “If I had putted a little bit better, I probably would have had a better chance down the stretch,” O’Hair said.
Jimmy Walker, the 2015 Valero champ, finished with a 5-under 67 to finish solo fourth. It’s his best result since a solo third at TPC Boston in September of 2016. “Just to be able to get back in the flow of being in contention, that’s so nice,” said Walker. “It’s fun to have those feelings.”
It was an impressive finish for Joaquin Niemann, the 19-year-old from Chile making his professional debut. He birdied his final three holes to shoot 67 and finish solo sixth at 12 under. “I can’t be more happy than this,” said Niemann. “… It’s one of the best weeks of my life.” His next start will be the Wells Fargo Championship in two weeks. He was originally going to play on a sponsor’s exemption but now qualifies with his top-10 finish.
QUOTABLESHe was telling me good shot after good shot, just keep pushing. He would change the subject every now and then to just kind of lighten the mood.I still really do feel my best golf is in front of me, but I know what I’ve got to clean up.I feel like a veteran right now. I feel like a TOUR player now. I know I can beat these guys.
Longest drive – Troy Merritt’s 388-yard drive at the par-4 17th. That’s also the longest drive of the week.
Longest putt – Joshua Creel’s 40-foot, 2-inch birdie putt on the 13th hole. Creel, the Monday qualifier playing in his first PGA TOUR event, shot a 76 to finish tied for 64th
Lowest round – Sean O’Hair’s 6-under 66. There were four 67s – Jimmy Walker, Joaquin Niemann, Kevin Streelman and Ben Crane
Hardest hole -- The par-4 first, playing at 435 yards on Sunday. The stroke average was 4.333, with just five birdies made against 21 bogeys and four others.
Easiest hole -- The par-5 second, playing at 597 yards on Sunday. The stroke average was 4.542.
CALL OF THE DAY
SHOT OF THE DAY
Sean O’Hair’s hole-out chip shot at Valero