LA QUINTA, Calif. (AP) — Andrew Landry regrouped to win The American Express after blowing a six-stroke lead on the back nine Sunday.
Landry broke a tie with Abraham Ancer with a 7-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole — the jagged rock-ringed, island-green par 3 called Alcatraz — and made a 6-footer on the par-4 18th for a 5-under 67 and a two-stroke victory.
“That was probably the shot of the tournament for me,” Landry said about the 17th. “Just to be able to go over there and, to that right hole location, and just hold one up and hit a good distance and have a 7-, 8-footer to look at. … Thankfully, it went in and kind of made 18 a little bit easier.”
The 32-year-old Texan won the pro-am event at PGA West two years after losing a playoff to Jon Rahm.
“This is a golf course that has suited me very well in the past,” Landry said. “And just to look back on some of the things that happened a couple years ago and then now, just to be able to finally get it done. I didn’t want to have to go back into a playoff again and we’re running out of daylight, so it’s good to finally get the job done again.”
The former University of Arkansas player has two PGA Tour victories, also winning the 2018 Texas Open. He won Sunday after missing seven of eight cuts to start the season.
“That’s why you just got to keep grinding it out,” Landry said. “We all search for these weeks, and the majority of players out here are going to have them, four, five, six times a year and top-10 players are going to have them a little bit more often. So, these are the weeks that we search for and we just continue to just play our ball and keep doing what we do, and hopefully they come sooner than later.”
Trying to become the third Mexican winner in PGA Tour history and first since 1978, Ancer matched the Stadium Course record with a 63.
“All week, really, I hit the ball great off the tee and iron shots, and in the first three rounds, I feel like I didn’t score as low as I should have for how good I hit the ball,” Ancer said. “But stayed patient and today the putts started to fall in.”
Playing two groups ahead of Landry, Ancer birdied No. 16 and 17 and parred the 18th, missing from 35 feet and saving par with a 4 1/2-footer.
He realized he was tied for lead just before teeing off on 17.
“I wasn’t paying much attention to the leaderboard,” Ancer said. “And then that’s when I noticed and I was like, ‘All right, well, we got to make two other birdies.’ I made the putt there on 17, which was big, and then just couldn’t make it happen on 18. But I played good, man. I’m proud of how I played.”
Landry appeared to be cruising to victory when he birdied the first three holes on the back nine to open the six-shot lead. He bogeyed the next three holes, made a par on the par-5 16th that felt like another bogey, and was tied when Ancer ran in a 25-footer on 17.
“Just kind of calmed myself down and said, ‘Hey, look, these are two holes that we can go out and get, they suit my game very well, especially 18,’” Landry said.
Landry finished at 26-under 262. He opened with a 66 on the Stadium Course, shot 64 in the second round at La Quinta Country Club and had a 65 on Saturday on PGA West’s Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course for a share of the third-round lead with Scottie Scheffler — four strokes ahead of third-place Rickie Fowler.
The anticipated duel between Landry and Scheffler fizzled early.
Scheffler bogeyed the par-4 first after his drive went left and rolled back down a hill into a large divot. He also dropped strokes on the par-5 fifth and long par-3 sixth to fall four strokes behind Landry. On the water-guarded fifth, his aggressive play with a fairway wood from a downhill lie near a right-side bunker went well left and, after a long chip, he missed a 3-footer for par.
Scheffler shot 70, briefly giving Landry a scare with an eagle on 16, to finish third at 23 under. The 23-year-old former University of Texas player is in his first season on the PGA Tour after winning twice and topping the Korn Ferry Tour Finals and overall points lists last season.
Bud Cauley (65) and Sepp Straka (66) tied for fourth at 20 under.
Fowler had a 71 in the final group with Landry and Scheffler to tie for 10th at 18 under. From nearby Murrietta, Fowler played the event for the first time in six years.
DIVOTS: Casar Sanudo and Victor Regalado are the only Mexican winners on the tour. Sanudo won the 1970 Azalea Open Invitational. Regalado won the 1974 Pleasant Valley Classic and 1978 Quad Cities Open. … Sam Burns also matched the Stadium Course record with a 63. He tied for sixth at 19 under.
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