Sports

Landry’s contention story of the week at Oakmont

AP

Don’t lie to yourself.

You had no idea who Andrew Landry was before this week.

And that’s totally fine. In fact, it’s awesome.

It’s what makes the U.S. Open what it is.

Of the 156 players in the field at Oakmont Country Club this week, 80 of them came through the local and subsequent sectional qualifying.

Of those 80, one was in the final pairing on Sunday.

Never mind that Landry went 8-over in his fourth and final round.

The fact that he was in contention at all makes him the story of the week.

“I always wanted to be at the U.S. Open,” Landry said. “It’s just one of those — it’s a major. It’s our Kentucky Derby. It’s frickin’ awesome.”

As reported by ESPN’s Ian O’Connor, Landry told his dad before the week, “I’m going to win this tournament.”

Pretty bold for a guy that hit a tree on his last hole of local qualifying and almost didn’t make it to sectionals.

But Landry’s mild-mannered confidence took Oakmont by storm this week — and it started before the real storm hit. Landry, ranked No. 624 in the world and in his rookie season on the PGA Tour, was the clubhouse leader at 4-under par after a weather-troubled Thursday and sinking a birdie putt Friday morning.

Let’s take a second to reflect on that, because it can be overshadowed a bit by Dustin Johnson’s win, the penalty stroke debacle, and the general craziness of the week.

Four-under par for a player pegged at 1,000-to-1 odds to win before the week.

That’s Hollywood-level theater.

If he won, studios could have made a movie about him.

In a way, they already did. If Landry lifted the trophy Sunday evening, he would’ve been the first player since Francis Ouimet in 1913 to win the U.S. Open in his first attempt.

Yes, Francis Ouimet, the father of amateur golf who was portrayed by Shia LeBeouf in Disney’s film “The Greatest Game Ever Played”.

Landry’s story didn’t end at 4-under after one round, either.

Despite going 4-over on the front nine of his second round, Landry bounced back with three birdies and no bogeys on the back. In the third round, he was steady at even, securing a spot in the tournament’s final grouping.

And at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Landry’s name was the second-to-last announced at the 2016 U.S. Open.

“It’s hard to be in the final group at the U.S. Open,” Landry said. “Walking down 18, I was like, man, I wish I could just take a picture of this because it’s like the coolest view from a player.”

For that to happen, you have to give credit to the USGA — even though lambasting was the preferred treatment on Sunday evening. Throughout its history, the governing body of the U.S. Open has welcomed amateurs and professionals alike to earn their way into the field through qualifications.

It’s a refreshingly open — no pun intended — approach, and it’s given us some of the greatest stories in tournament history.

Michael Campbell and Lucas Glover won the U.S. Open in 2005 and 2009, respectively, after conquering sectional qualifying. The last golfer to navigate both local and sectional qualifying and win the whole thing was Orville Moody in 1969.

Of course, unlike Moody, Campbell, Glover, Johnson and so many others, Landry doesn’t have his name etched on the U.S. Open Championship Trophy.

But after this week, one thing is for sure.

No one is ever going to say, Who the hell is Andrew Landry?

John McGonigal: 814-231-4630, @jmcgonigal9

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