Kaz’s Korner

Joe Kazmar – For The Record

Back in 2007 Argentina’s Angel Cabrera won the U.S. Open golf tournament at the difficult Oakmont course with a total score of five over par.

After the completion of Sunday’s final round, Port Neches-Groves alumni Andrew Landry fired that same five over par in the 2016 U.S. Open at the same Oakmont course and finished in a tie for 15th place.

In those nine years the members at Oakmont worked real hard to make their home course the most difficult in the country and probably the world getting it ready for last weekend’s major tournament.

However, since 2007, the PGA Tour golfers have gotten much better talent-wise and much stronger physically and mentally and the golf equipment has improved immensely.

And the difficulty of Oakmont was reduced considerably due to the three inches of rain which fell early during the four-day major tourney. Normally the winner of the U.S Open is lucky to shoot even par for the four days.

This was the first year that Landry qualified for the PGA Tour and he fought and scrapped his way up the ladder of the qualifying rounds to earn a spot in this year’s field, which is quite an accomplishment in itself for a rookie, even if the 5-7, 150-pound Landry was ranked 624th in the world on the pro tour.

Landry leaped at the opportunity of playing in a major tournament during his first year on the pro tour by firing a four-under par 66 in Thursday’s first round, which was THE BEST score ever shot in the first round of a U.S. Open played at Oakmont.

FOX, which covered the entire four rounds, tried its hardest to ignore showing Landry at various holes, focusing more on defending champion Jordan Spieth, eventual winner Dustin Johnson, popular Phil Mickelson, Englishman Lee Westwood and the world’s No. 1 golfer Jason Day and even predicting that Landry would come down to earth.

But that didn’t happen, although the TV snubs showing Landry continued, and it wasn’t until Landry made a late charge in the second round that he became the darling of Oakmont and FOX had no choice but to follow Landry.

Landry played the most consistent golf in the third round after the cut—which took its toll on  such big-named golfers as Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els, Justin Rose and my favorite Rickie Fowler—and was tied for second place at three-under par, four shots behind the Irish Republic’s Shane Lowry.

During the several hours before the final round began Sunday morning, the FOX Gestapo still didn’t give Landry his due credit for remaining near the top of the field and kept speculating on what kind of score Spieth or Westwood would have to shoot to compete for the winner’s trophy.

Actually all Landry had to do Sunday was to shoot even par like he did on Saturday to win it as he earned the right to play with Lowry in the final group of the day.

But things didn’t work out well for him as he bogeyed the first two holes and disappeared from the television screen for the rest of the tournament. It wasn’t too much longer after Lowry also hit a bad run of holes and he, too, was gone from the FOX telecast.

When the dust had settled and the golfers were finished with their last round, Andrew Landry had carded an eight-over 78 and finished in a tie for 15th place. But his paycheck was a biggie for him–$152,234—and the respect he gained from his peers and millions of golfing fans was priceless.

“I’m taking this as a positive,” the optimistic Landry said after signing his card late Sunday afternoon. His 285 score was nine shots behind winner Dustin Johnson.

“Obviously it’s my best finish of the year. So I’m taking it as a positive and move on to the following weeks and just continue to prepare. I’ve been in this situation, so I’m going to learn from it,” Landry concluded.

The best finish for the former Arkansas Razorback golfer on the Tour was a tie for 41st. It will be interesting how far up from 624th last weekend will carry his world ranking.

KWICKIES…The Long Beach State 49ers, which barely missed getting into the College World Series in Omaha, has a strange nickname for their baseball team—the Dirtbags!!

The Houston Astros continue their trek toward the .500 mark after taking two of three from the Cincinnati Reds and hopefully will attain that goal after their three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels concludes tonight (Wed.). The ‘Stroes went into the LA series Monday with a 34-36 record after winning four of their last five games.

San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt, who went to high school at Lufkin-Hudson and college at the University of Texas, pounded his 10th home run and drove in his 35th RBI to help his team win their eighth game in a row by downing Tampa Bay 5-1 Sunday. Belt raised his batting average to .305 through Sunday’s action.

The AL West leading Texas Rangers swept the St. Louis Cardinals in a three-game series, beating the sagging Redbirds 5-4 in Arlington. The Rangers are 16-4 in one-run games while the Cardinals dropped their fifth game in a row, all to Texas teams as the Astros swept them in a two-game series last week.

JUST BETWEEN US…Those diehard fans in Cleveland had to wait  more than half-a-century but they finally were rewarded big-time Sunday night when the Cavaliers upset the highly-favored Golden State Warriors in the seventh game of the 2016 NBA Finals and hung on for a 93-89 victory in Oakland. The Cavs became the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 deficit and beat the defending world champion Warriors. LeBron James, who promised two years ago to bring a championship to his native northeast Ohio, made good on his word, ending a 52-year major sports drought since the Cleveland Browns won the NFL title in 1964. Only San Diego, whose Chargers won the 1963 American Football League title on Jan. 5, 1964 has gone longer without a championship. James had a Triple-Double with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists to easily win the MVP for the playoffs.