We won’t know for sure until the 116th US Open is completed — and given Mother Nature was running amok yesterday, who knows when that will be — what will become of a young man named Andrew Landry in this competition.
But if you find yourself lumping him in with gents such as Andy Dillard and Kenneth Ferrie and Justin Hicks, it’s probably because history is on your side.
Never heard of them? Include yourself in the majority, because rarely were these golfers in the news after having brief, but shining moments in a US Open.
Ah, yes. The US Open. A major championship that often serves as a stage for minor names. Apologies, if it sounds disrespectful, but for more than 100 years this competition with narrow fairways, gnarly rough and slippery greens has seen unheralded players charge forth, only to go tumbling back.
It is as if the Warhol-ian line about “15 minutes of fame” was drawn up to talk about various US Opens where someone you’ve never heard of steps up out of nowhere.
This Landry lad, for instance. You have friends in Port Neches-Groves, Texas? Ask them about native son Landry. Or, if you’re in tune with all things surrounding the University of Arkansas golf programme, where he played, then count yourself one of the few who has heard of Landry.
But the most of us? Slide us the media guide. Certainly, his 2016 season on the PGA Tour hasn’t educated us about the 28-year-old, because he’s missed the cut six times in 11 start and never finished better than T-41.
Hardly a sterling rookie season, for sure, but golf being the craziest of our crazy games, Landry birdied his first hole of his first-ever major championship and somehow turned into a combination Ben Hogan-Jack Nicklaus.
Out in 2-under 33, Landy ducked inside for more than an hour to avoid one storm, returned to birdie three of his next four holes, then joined his colleagues inside the locker room as another thunderstorm pounded Oakmont.
Devastating was the weather, shocking was the leaderboard: Landry at 5 under through 13 holes was in front by three. He was three better than Jordan Spieth, five ahead of Rory McIlroy, and as if that wasn’t enough to make you wonder what was going on, there was the added aspect of the stage.
Oakmont CC is advertised as the toughest course the USGA uses, a monster so sinister that in 2007 it yielded just eight sub-par rounds in the entire US Open. None other than the incomparable Tiger Woods was reported to have played one of his finest rounds ever, a ball-striking masterpiece that included 17 greens in regulation. Yet Woods shot just 69.
So as Landry, who teed off at 6:46am local time, returned at about 2:30pm to play his 14th hole, he was not only surprising this year’s field, he was threatening to re-write history.
In eight previous US Opens at mighty Oakmont, the best first-round score was 67, shot twice by men named Hogan and Player. Yes, that Ben Hogan and Gary Player.
Hall of Famers and iconic, each of them, and while you wanted to play the old “which one of these doesn’t belong,” there is another part of you that took a deep breath and took hold of some perspective.
Dillard, Ferrie, Hicks were just three names that jumped into your mind. At the 1992 US Open, Dillard on the strength of 69-70 was challenging for the lead — until he shot 79-77 over the weekend.
He rarely was noticed on the PGA Tour after that. Ferrie was co-leader with Phil Mickelson through 54 holes at Winged Foot in 2004, and his words that day were what you would have expected from an unknown: “Kind of the first time I’ve ever contended... We’ll see come tomorrow. ”He saw, and it wasn’t great. With a 76 he fell to a share of sixth.
The sentiment can be shared by Hicks, who in 2008 at Torrey Pines was your shocking first-day co-leader thanks to a 68. When the inevitable question was asked, he answered, “I think I’m another one of the guys out there trying to earn his card.” He then became an afterthought, plunging to a final standing of T-74.
History suggests Landry will experience a similar fate, but the story is to be continued. With two late bogeys he fell to 3 under, but more than nine hours after he had teed off, Landry was on his final green when a third weather warning sent him to the clubhouse.
Agony for all, but give Mother Nature credit for one thing: She was providing more than 15 minutes of US Open fame for the previously unknown Andrew Landry.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved