Landry Survived Two Close Calls at Local Qualifying

Twice during qualifying, Andrew Landry steered clear of Rules violations that could have ended his U.S. Open bid. USGA/JD Cuban)
Twice during qualifying, Andrew Landry steered clear of Rules violations that could have ended his U.S. Open bid. USGA/JD Cuban)  (USGA/JD Cuban)

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Andrew Landry is enjoying the week of his golf career in the 116th U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club, where he is playing in the final grouping in the third round on Saturday afternoon after rounds of 66-71. To think that a month ago, he was very fortunate to advance through local qualifying.

Nearly 10,000 players filed entries to play in this 116th U.S. Open, and Landry’s quest began on May 9 at Duke University Golf Club in Durham, N.C. As he prepared for his 18-hole local qualifier, he walked past Chris Zeh, the director of Rules and Competitions for the Carolinas Golf Association, which was conducting the qualifier on behalf of the USGA.

“I asked him if he was wearing metal spikes [on his golf shoes],” Zeh recounted. Landry was indeed wearing them, as several players do on professional tours. Had Landry worn them in the qualifier, he would have been disqualified under the Local Rules, so Zeh hustled to help Landry change the spikes with a few minutes to spare before Landry’s starting time.

Landry stood at 3 under par as he played the par-4 18th hole. He hit his tee shot into an area that he suspected was ground under repair, which would have allowed him to take relief. There was no official nearby, so under the Rules, Landry played the original ball, then dropped one clear of the area and played that ball as well. He marked the spot, with the intention of asking an official after the round under Rule 3-3a.

Landry actually made a par 4 with the original ball in the erstwhile ground under repair, and he made a bogey 5 with the second ball. He asked an official to inspect the area post-round, and it was decided that Landry was not entitled to relief. Because of that, Landry made par on his final hole, not a bogey.

This was crucial to his chances of moving on to sectional qualifying, because Landry scored 69, making him one of the five players to advance out of the 80-player field. A round of 70 (had he gotten relief and made bogey) would have put him in a 3-for-1 playoff for the final spot to advance.

Landry went on to shoot rounds of 68-67 in Memphis, Tenn., in sectional qualifying to earn his place in the field. After a mostly mediocre season on the PGA Tour, he is making the most of the opportunity.