Saturday, April 21, 2018

Zach Johnson and Andrew Landry tie for the lead at Valero 

Texas Open, Martin Laird in jt fifth position after 3 rounds

 SAN ANTONIO – Entering this weekend, Zach Johnson had made 371 starts in his US PGA TOUR career. That’s 300 more than the combined starts of his final-round playing partners at the Valero Texas Open, Andrew Landry and Trey Mullinax.
Johnson has 12 wins, including two majors, with 77 top 10s. Four of those wins have come in Texas, two of those in this city. Landry and Mullinax have yet to break through in any state and have combined for six top 10s.
Johnson, at age 42, will seek to continue the recent resurgence of 40-something winners on TOUR – three in the last eight events. Landry is 30, Mullinax is 25 – and either one would be quite satisfied to win one for the younger crowd.
That’s how it sets up in the final threesome that tees off at 12:25 p.m. ET Sunday at TPC San Antonio. 
Johnson and Landry are the co-leaders at 13 under, with Mullinax one shot back in solo third after setting the course record with a 62 on Saturday. No guarantees that any of the three will emerge as the winner – Ryan Moore is just two shots back, and 2015 Valero champ Jimmy Wallker, leads the pack tied for fifth at 9 under – but if it comes down to the final group, there’s no doubt who has the experience edge.
“Honestly, I think we’re all out here for a reason and we’re all out here to win and we’re all out here because we’re good,” said Landry, who had one of eight, bogey-free rounds Saturday in shooting 4-under 68. “Zach’s had some success and we’ll just continue to go out and play fiery.
“That’s how those Web.com guys come out, and so we’re just going to go put the gas pedal down and just try to win.”
Landry almost did that at the CareerBuilder Challenge, losing in a play-off to Jon Rahm. Mullinax has never been in this position, and now he’ll likely have to back up his record round with another low one.
“I’m sure I’ll be nervous,” he said. “… To have a chance to win or just go play good golf is what I came here for, so that’s what I’m going to do.
As for Johnson … well, he’s won Valero twice, but on a different course. Should he happen to win for a third time, he’d join Arnold Palmer and Justin Leonard as the only three-time winners of this event.
“I’ve got 18 holes to get to that point,” he said. “So a lot of work still left, but a lot of work I’m going to enjoy. You mentioned two names that I hold in the highest regard. Obviously, the King is the King and Justin is a very, very good friend, so two of my favorites that ever played the game.”
What happens when the wind softens at TPC San Antonio? Consider this: the field was a combined 86 under on Saturday, compared to 239 over on Thursday when the wind whipped through the course. Saturday’s scoring average of 70.93 was the third lowest average of any round here since the tournament moved to the AT&T Oaks course in 2010.
Ryan Moore had been bogey-free the first two days but opened the third round with a bogey when his approach came up short of the green at the first hole, and he missed the 13-foot par-saver. Like Johnson, he’s eating up the back nine, playing it this week in a bogey-free 9-under.
Grayson Murray was tied for third entering Saturday but double-bogeyed the opening hole and suffered three bogeys on the front nine. His even-par 72 was the only round not under par among the top 19 players on the leaderboard.
Since the tournament moved to TPC San Antonio, the third-round leader/co-leader has won five times, including Kevin Chappell last year.
Trey Mullinax’s 62 was the eighth shot on TOUR this season. Only one round has been lower – Chesson Hadley’s 11-under 61 in the second round of the season-opening Safeway Open.

SUPERLATIVES

Longest drive: Jason Kokrak’s 363-yarder at the par-4 fifth. There were 11 other drives longer in the first two rounds under windier conditions.
Longest putt: Martin Laird’s putt from 83 feet, 4 inches for eagle at the par-5 eighth. For the week, Laird has made more than 339 feet of putts, including three putts of 30-plus feet.
Hardest hole: The 241-yard par-3 13th played to a stroke average of 3.263. Just two birdies were made on the hole – Ernie Els and Matt Kuchar.
Easiest hole: The 567-yard par-5 14th played to a stroke average of 4.563, with Trey Mullinax making the only eagle on that hole.
Low round: The course-record 62 by Trey Mullinax, of course. Hardly seems to do it justice to call it the low round of the day.
Bogey-free rounds: Sean O’Hair (65), Andrew Landry (67), Andrew Putnam (68), Brandt Snedeker (68), J.T. Poston (68), Sam Ryder (68), Austin Cook (69), Graeme McDowell (70)

LEADERBOARD

203 Zach Johnson (USA) 70 65 68, Andrew Landry (USA) 69 67 67
204 Trey Mullinax (USA) 74 68 62
205 Ryan Moore (USA) 68 67 70

SELECTED SCORES
207 Martin Laird (Scotland) 73 65 69 (T5)
214 Graeme McDowell (N Ireland) 72 71 71 (T39)



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