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PN-G grad Landry in lead at US Open

June 17, 2016

‘Who is Andrew Landry?’

That question was repeatedly murmured in hushed tones Thursday throughout the Oakmont Country Club at the 116th U.S. Open.

The answer: he’s the first-round leader - at least heading into this morning.

Landry, a Port Neches-Groves graduate, is 3-under and in position for a birdie putt on the par-4 ninth hole, his final of the first round. Play was called for the day before he could finish - and after being suspended three times earlier for severe weather.

It’s not a bad position to be in during his first appearance in a major championship.

“I hit the ball really well (Thursday) and just made a bunch of putts and just kept it going,” Landry said.

He set a blistering pace early, getting to 5-under through 15 before back-to-back bogeys on his 16th and 17th holes of the day. If Landry pars No. 9, it will be his lowest score of the season by a stroke. He shot a 68 at the AT&T Byron Nelson in May.

Bubba Watson and Danny Lee are 2-under through 14 and 13, respectively. The clubhouse leader is amateur Scottie Scheffler, who shot a 1-under 69.

“It was a good day,” Lee said. “I know it’s a little bit frustrating. It’s been a long day. I think it’s been a long day for everybody. I can’t complain. I put in a good round, and I have another birdie opportunity on hole 14. So I’m happy with that.”

Not even two prolonged weather delays - and the third which stopped play for the day - could slow down the 626th-ranked golfer in the world.

Landry was 3-under through 11 holes when the first rainshower sent players and spectators scattering for cover. An hour and 19 minutes later, he continued his birdie barrage, finishing off a string of three consecutive birdies on holes 2 through 4.

It made for a marathon day, as Landry, a tour rookie, teed off at 6:56 a.m., minutes after the sun rose over western Pennsylvania.

“It was tough,” Landry said. “I just kind of kept to myself, had my family here with me, went to the locker room, stayed by myself, talked with my caddie a little bit, and turned my phone off. I had my phone off the whole time. It was good to just be by myself and take it all in.”

The former three-time All-American at the University of Arkansas is anonymous enough that even the on-course leaderboard operators overlooked him, despite his position in front of the field. During the first weather delay, they had Landry’s name far from the top.

In 11 events this season, Landry’s made five cuts and earned $69,130. He’s currently No. 203 in the FedEx Cup standings. His best finish is tied for 41st in last week’s FedEx St. Jude Classic.

The momentum carried through June 6 in Memphis when Landry was 7-under over 36 holes to punch qualify for the Open.

Landry played 45 holes at Oakmont this week during practice rounds. He said the course was noticeably softer in the first round after overnight showers Wednesday and a deluge Thursday. Those conditions are likely to continue today and possibly into the weekend.

Kyle Rowland is a freelance writer