Landry survives scare to hold of Ancer for PGA La Quinta crown

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Andrew Landry squandered a six-shot back-nine lead yesterday but finished with back-to-back birdies to win the PGA Tour American Express in La Quinta, California, by two shots.

Landry fired a five-under-par 67 on the PGA West Stadium Course for a 26-under-par total of 262.

He appeared to be cruising toward his second PGA Tour title when he nabbed three birdies on the front nine and opened the back with birdies at 10, 11 and 12.

But Landry, who lost the 2018 title in the California desert in a playoff against Spain’s Jon Rahm, bogeyed three straight to open the door to Mexico’s Abraham Ancer, who powered up the leaderboard with a 63 for 264.

Landry arrived at the 17th tee tied for the lead. In what he called the “biggest shot of the tournament” he landed an eight-iron six feet from the pin on the dangerous island green.

He followed that birdie with a birdie at 18, where he split the fairway and hit his approach to six feet.

Andrew Landry plays his second shot on the seventh hole during the final round of The American Express tournament at the Stadium Course in La Quinta, California. PHOTO: AP

“I’ve been swinging it well all week and putting it well all week,” Landry said as he discussed how he maintained his poise after blowing his big lead.

“That putt on 15, I don’t know how that ball didn’t go in. Then I hit another great putt on 16. So I was, like, ‘Hey, look, I’m stroking the ball well.’

“I had good swing thoughts.”

Nevertheless, the memory of the 2018 playoff loss was also prominent, making for an emotional moment when he’d secured the win and toddler son Brooks ran onto the 18th green for a hug.

“It’s good to finally be able to get the job done again,” said Landry, who has endured his share of struggles since his only other tour victory in the 2018 Texas Open.

Coming into the week Landry had missed five straight cuts, and seven of eight since the 2019-20 campaign began.

Ancer notched another solid result with his fourth top-four finish, but remains in search of his first PGA Tour title.

“I knew I had to make a lot of birdies, the guys were out there pretty far ahead,” he said of his aggressive mindset heading into yesterday’s six shots off the lead shared by Landry and Scottie Scheffler.

He was five-under on the front nine and picked up four more birdies coming in – rolling in a 26-footer at the par-three 17th.

“I’m proud of how I played today,” he said.

Scheffler was even through the first nine with three birdies and three bogeys and drained a six-foot eagle putt at the par-five 16th to finish with a two-under 70 and sole possession of third place on 265.

Rickie Fowler, who started the day four off the lead, settled for a one-under 71 that left him tied for 10th.