(Reuters) – American golfer Andrew Landry squandered a six-shot lead before steadying to clinch a two-stroke victory over Abraham Ancer at the American Express tournament in La Quinta, California on Sunday.
Landry seemed headed for a runaway victory until he ran up three straight bogeys from the 13th hole at the PGA West Stadium course.
And after Mexican Ancer, playing two groups ahead, collected three birdies in four holes from the 14th, it was suddenly tied up and what would have been a collapse for the ages suddenly loomed large.
Landry, however, remained composed enough to strike a precise eight-iron at the dangerous island-green par-three 17th to eight feet.
“I think (that was) the biggest shot,” said the Texan, who drained the birdie putt to regain the sole lead.
He added another birdie for good measure at the last to shoot five-under-par 67 and claim his second PGA Tour victory at the age of 32.
Landry finished at 26-under 262, while Ancer shot 63 to claim second place alone.
“I had some good swing thoughts coming down the stretch and just got the job done,” said Landry, delighted to have retained his composure after the three rapid-fire bogeys.
“I’ve been swinging well and putting well all week.”
Landry lost a playoff to Jon Rahm in the same tournament in 2018, the year he won the Texas Open.
“This is a golf course that has suited me very well in the past,” he said.
“To finally get it done, I didn’t want to have to go back into a playoff again.”
Runner-up Ancer channelled his best Presidents Cup memories to match the day’s best score.
“The Presidents Cup, that was a lot of pressure every single shot,” said Ancer, referring to the team event in which he ran up a 3-1-1 record for the International side in a narrow defeat by the United States in Australia last month.
His only loss came in singles against Tiger Woods.
“I knew I had to make a lot of birdies today. The guys were out there far ahead,” said the 28-year-old who remains in search of his first PGA Tour victory.
“I’ve been rolling it good this week. They finally all came in today because in the first rounds I putted good but didn’t get many to drop.”
American Scottie Scheffler began the day tied for the lead with Landry, carded 70 and finished three strokes behind in third place.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Stephen Coates and Christopher Cushing)