Woodland's resolve on display at PGA, through crisis

By Rex HoggardAugust 10, 2017, 8:56 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – When Gary Woodland arrived at Washburn University in the fall of 2002 he was an undersized point guard who admittedly had never really been tested.

That changed quickly.

“At one of his first practices [Woodland] gets in there and gets a rebound and I stop practice and start giving it to the guys, ‘What are you doing letting this freshman get a rebound?’ I made them run laps forever,” recalled Bob Chipman, the Ichabods’ basketball coach for 38 seasons. “The seniors laid into him after that, don’t you dare try to get another rebound.”

Woodland didn’t stop then and he hasn’t stopped since.

Chipman went on to explain that Woodland had a magical shooting touch at Washburn, setting the 3-point record for a freshman in his lone season with the team, but what he truly admired was that unquantifiable toughness –

“hard-nosed” is how the legendary coach explained it.

“He is hard-nosed,” said Butch Harmon, Woodland’s swing coach, “just look at him. He’s tough, he’s an athlete, he’s a joy to work with because he’s used to being coached as a basketball player.”

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Woodland’s time at Washburn was short and he left the team after his freshman year to play golf at Kansas and eventually the PGA Tour. But that toughness that defined his time in Topeka, Kan., was just as evident on Thursday at the PGA Championship when he rounded Quail Hollow Club in 68 strokes for a share of second place, just a stroke off the first-round lead.

It was there two weeks ago when he found a way to finish fourth at the RBC Canadian Open with what has become a common problem for the 33-year-old in recent months – a stone, cold putter.

“The way I’ve putted lately, I haven’t made anything, so you have to find a way to get through that and focus on other things and hopefully putts go in,” Woodland said. “I grinded through to finish fourth in Canada and found a way to give myself a chance on Sunday when I wasn’t making any putts.”

But most telling is how he found a way to move forward after what he calls the hardest year of his life. In March, Woodland revealed via social media that his wife, Gabby, who was pregnant with twins, suffered from complications which resulted in the loss of one child.

In June, Gabby gave birth to the couple’s first child, Jaxson, who was born 10 weeks early and weighed just 3 pounds.

“With what we dealt with for a long time and the struggle my wife has had to deal with. It’s been hard for me to leave home,” Woodland said following his best round at a major since the 2012 PGA Championship.

Jaxson still needs a monitor to help with his breathing and he’s scheduled to undergo surgery next week for a hernia, but he’s home, which is all that matters to both mother and father after what has understandably been an emotional few months for the Woodlands.

Every day, after good round or bad, Woodland leaves the golf course and spends time with Jaxson via FaceTime. The perspective has made everything in Woodland’s life predictably easier, even a putter that hasn’t been cooperating.

“Just knowing he’s safe. Before he was born we didn’t know if he was going to make it. And then he was born so early, luckily the doctors and the nurses were so good,” Woodland said.

This definitely makes me forget about the missed putts down the stretch

A post shared by Gary Woodland (@gary.woodland) on

It was Woodland’s improved putting on Day 1 at Quail Hollow, where he took just 16 putts per green in regulation, that moved him into contention, not to mention a long game that is a perfect fit for what is quickly becoming the season’s toughest major venue.

“He’s probably playing the best he’s ever played in his life. He’s driving the ball beautifully, his distance really helps,” Harmon said. “This week he’s made some putts, which he’s been struggling with.”

But there was no hiding the solace of having Jaxson at home awaiting his FaceTime call. That ease had been missing the last few months on Tour as Woodland, normally one of the circuit’s most engaging players, wrestled with the emotions and uncertainty.

Throughout the last few months Woodland’s toughness was tested, but the hard-nosed player never stopped moving forward, just like he did at Washburn.

“I learned how to work and how to fight [at Washburn],” Woodland said on Thursday.

Late in Woodland’s season at Washburn, Chipman recalled a game against Northwest Missouri State, the Ichabods’ rivals.

“They had us beaten bad, so at the half I threw [Woodland] in and he hit five 3-pointers, the last one was way beyond NBA range to win the game,” Chipman laughed. “I figure a guy that can do that shouldn’t have any problem making putts.”

Just as the guy who endured the trials brought by the last few months seems to be having no problem dealing with the relative pressure of a major championship.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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