Welcome to the Dew Sweeper, your one-stop shop to catch up on the weekend action from the golf world. From the professional tours, trending news, social media headlines and upcoming events, here’s every golf-related thing you need to know for the morning of Jan. 20.
Landry staves off collapse at PGA West
Forget sending a distress signal; the S.S. Andrew Landry was lowering the life boats. Landry’s six-stroke lead at the American Express had evaporated thanks to three straight bogeys and a par on the second-easiest hole at the PGA West Stadium Course, and was staring down the par-3 17th’s island green, the nerviest shot the property has to offer.
But when everyone was expecting him to drown, Landry answered, and answered with vigor, walking away from the American Express as its new champ.
“I’ve seen [roller-coaster rounds], but I haven’t been a part of them,” Landry said afterwards. “I don’t like being a part of them either … And, yeah, I don’t want to be a part of something like that ever again.”
Sharing the 54-hole lead with Scottie Scheffler, Landry was six under through his first 12 holes Sunday in La Quinta while the rookie was even par, ostensibly making the final six holes a victory lap. But then Landry encountered the aforementioned disastrous stretch, which coincided with Abraham Ancer lighting the second nine on fire to tie things up, and a Scheffler eagle put him one back.
However, Landry—who looked like he needed a life jacket—regained his advantage at the 17th, hitting his tee shot to six feet and converting what remained for a birdie for a one-shot lead. He put the tournament on ice with an approach to five feet at the 18th, his birdie dropping for a two-shot win over Ancer.
It was the second career victory for Landry, a 32-year-old bulldog that’s had to dig every inch of his career from the dirt. That includes this season, missing seven of eight cuts entering the week. “Winning out here is hard,” Landry said. “So just to be able to get the job done, man, it means a lot to be able to be a winner again.”
History will show Landry finished off the American Express in style. In truth, it was an exhibition of survival.
Backstopping strikes again
Reset the “It’s been [X] weeks since the last unnecessary fuss in golf” counter.
The latest involves the return of backstopping, the practice of leaving a ball unmarked near a pin to help a playing partner. The issue reached a fever pitch in 2018 after Jimmy Walker admitted to purposefully doing it for players he liked, and made an appearance last year on the LPGA when Amy Olson hit Ariya Jutanugarn’s ball after waving her off from marking, but had relatively died down over the past few months. That is, until a video emerged of Kevin Na yelling, “Hit my ball!” to a Russell Knox’s bunker shot from Friday’s Tour action:
Not a great look, and one Golf Twitter took to task immediately. For those wondering why this evokes hard, compulsory opinions, here’s what Rule 15.3a says: “If you reasonably believe that a ball on the putting green might help anyone’s play (such as by serving as a possible backstop near the hole), you may mark and lift the ball if it is your own, or if the ball belongs to another player, require the other player to mark and lift the ball.”
The rule also states, “If you and another player agree to leave a ball in place to help one of you, and that player then makes a stroke with the helping ball left in place, each player who made the agreement gets the general penalty (two penalty strokes).”
In short, even if the golf balls don’t make contact, both players can still be penalized. Granted, in the big scheme of things, backstopping is trivial. But Golf is already strife with controversy, and the longer this goes on unabated, the greater the chances of it deciding a tournament come into play.
Westwood wins in fourth decade
Lee Westwood was washed up. The former World No. 1 had fallen to No. 125 in the OWGR in the summer of 2018. At 45, Westwood was at an age more conducive to pasture than competition, that dreaded purgatory for those not old enough for the Champions Tour but lacking the vitality to challenge the game’s best.
That was the perception at least. A perception Westwood has knocked into the English channel, winning the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship four months shy of his 47th birthday. The victory gives Westwood a win in four decades on the European Tour, joining Mark McNulty and Des Smyth as the only players to do so on the Old World circuit.
“I can’t believe I’m that old,” said Westwood. “It’s getting harder. It’s just nice to come out and keep proving that you’ve still got it.”
Entering the day with a one-shot lead, Westwood held off charges from Tommy Fleetwood, Victor Perez and Matthew Fitzpatrick with a five-under 67 for a two-shot win, his first W since the 2018 Nedbank Challenge and his 25th career title on the Euro Tour.
It also moves him into the top 30 in the OWGR, which would qualify him for the WGCs and majors (although he’s already in the field in three of the four). And, interestingly enough, puts him on the radar as a Ryder Cup candidate. Westwood, a member of 10 European teams, watched the 2018 proceedings as an assistant captain, and seemed to downplay his chances of returning as a player. Nevertheless, in the shower of victory, Westwood allowed himself the reverie.
“And I would love to play another as long as I’m good enough. I wouldn’t want a pick, but if I qualified I would definitely play,” Westwood said. “For now, it’s just nice to come out and keep proving that I’ve still got it.”
17-year-old earns Masters, Open invite
Abel Gallegos couldn’t sleep heading into the final day of the Latina America Amateur Championship. Following the final round at Maykoba, the 17-year-old was still in a daze. Only this one wasn’t due to sleep deprivation.
“It’s incredible,” Gallegos said. “I think I’m in a dream.”
Apropos sentiments, as Gallegos—who entered the week sitting 460th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking—captured the LAAC, becoming the first Argentinian to win the prestigious amateur event.
Gallegos hails from a village two hours outside of Buenos Aires and learned the game on a modest nine-hole track named “Little Mules.” Yet his performance was nothing short of prime time. Starting the day three back of 54-hole leader Jose Vega, Gallegos’ nerves were present on the first tee, hitting a wild drive to start the day. But he managed to save par on the first and made the turn in 33, good enough for a one-shot lead. A double-bogey from Vega on the 14th bestowed a three-shot advantage, with Gallegos sealing his triumph with a birdie at the final hole.
Prior to the week, Gallegos was a relative unknown to the golf world, rarely competing outside his home country. That anonymity won’t last long as Gallegos—who looks less like a golfer, more like an infantry tank dressed in a polo—has earned invites to the Masters and Open Championship.
“It’s an incredible moment,” Gallegos said. “I dedicate the win for all of Argentina.”
Hosung hits playing partner with club
Hosung Choi’s 15 minutes of fame seemed up. But the man with the “fisherman’s swing” is back in the news. Just not the news Hosung wanted.
Playing in the Singapore Open, Choi’s post-shot theatrics officially crossed the Rubicon, as the 44-year-old lost control of his driver and nearly took out his playing competitor:
If you’re going to pirouette, you got to stick the landing.
Judging by the negative response the video has generated, it appears social media—tough crowd, that social media—has turned on the player whose celebrity it helped create. Proving you either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.