If nerves were a serious factor, Andrew Landry hid them with an impressive poker face throughout the final round of the Valero Texas Open.
Landry, a 30-year-old Arkansas graduate, walked off the 16th green with a blank expression tucked behind his navy blue Ping golf hat, mirrored Oakley shades and well-groomed stubble.
Two holes later he managed a small grin and not much else after shooting 17-under 271 at TPC San Antonio for his first PGA Tour victory.
“We’re trying to get to the Tour Championship this year, and that’s kind of my goal,” Landry said. “Still have a lot of work to do, but this definitely helps.”
Trey Mullinax also was looking for his first win on Tour and trailed by one stroke with two holes to play. He was just 46 yards out on the par-4 17th but chunked his pitch into a greenside bunker, the type of mistake that always makes empathetic viewers cringe.
Mullinax, who set the course record with a 10-under 62 in Round 3, made bogey at 17 and finished T-2 with Sean O’Hair at 15 under.
Landry began the final round tied for the lead with Zach Johnson and birdied his first three holes. His 4-under 68 in the final round included just one bogey, at the par-4 11th, and Landry finished with seven consecutive pars to get the job done.
Johnson shot even-par 72 in the final round and finished fifth at 13 under. Former No. 1-ranked amateur Joaquin Niemann finished sixth in his PGA Tour debut, and Ryan Moore was seventh.
Going into the final round, Landry wasn’t rattled by his company.
“I don’t want to sound cocky or anything, but I just believe in myself,” Landry said after Round 3. “You know, you can totally get out here and play with Zach Johnson, Ryan Moore, two top players in the world, and you can go out there and fold under pressure or you can learn a lot. And Zach’s always been a role model to me, the way he plays golf.”
Landry was previously best-known as the underdog who fought his way into the final pairing of the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont, and his victory speaks to the importance of self-belief and the unpredictability of professional golf. He entered the Texas Open on the heels of a T-42 at the RBC Heritage and four consecutive missed cuts before that. He showed potential during a playoff loss to Jon Rahm at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January but accomplished nothing of note in the months that followed.
The buildup to the 2018 Masters featured a different, big-name winner each week, with the likes of Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas scoring victories ahead of Patrick Reed’s triumph at Augusta National.
Things have simmered in recent weeks. Landry is just the third first-time winner this year along with Brice Garnett and Japan’s Satoshi Kodaira, who accomplished the same feat last week at the RBC Heritage.
Landry will team up with Talor Gooch for next week’s team-format Zurich Classic in New Orleans, and he now has a spot in next month’s Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
The stakes will continue to rise and the fields will be tougher than the one Landry emerged from this week, but the poise he showed in the final round Sunday suggests he’s up for the challenge. Gwk