Who’s Gary Woodland? What it’s essential to know concerning the new U.S. Open champion

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Gary Woodland, who hadn’t completed within the prime 10 of a significant championship till final 12 months, held off a cost from two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka to win the 119th U.S. Open at Pebble Seaside for his first main victory on Sunday.

Woodland, who began the ultimate spherical with a one-stroke lead, shot 2-under par and completed 13 underneath for 72 holes to win by three strokes over Koepka, who was making an attempt to develop into the primary man in 114 years to win three consecutive U.S. Open titles.

If you have not heard a lot about Woodland, listed below are 5 issues it’s essential to know:

1. He was a star in a viral video earlier this season

When Woodland arrived on the Waste Administration Phoenix Open in late January, PGA Tour officers requested him if he would play the famed par-Three 16th gap with Particular Olympics golfer Amy Bockerstette, who has Down syndrome.

Woodland was completely happy to do it. He met Bockerstette and her father, Joe, when he reached the 16th tee field. Bockerstette, who accepted a scholarship to play golf at Paradise Valley Group School in Phoenix in 2018, knocked her tee shot right into a bunker, chipped out to eight toes after which sank the par putt.

“That is superior!” Woodland stated.

“Amy … you are our hero.”

How a celebrity named Amy teamed up with @GaryWoodland to win the hearts of the 16th gap crowd @WMPhoenixOpen.#LiveUnderPar pic.twitter.com/iRhZbvdjuP

— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 30, 2019

It was essentially the most viral video in PGA Tour historical past, with greater than 5 million views.

“I’ve accomplished loads of stuff being the defending champ, however that was by far the good factor that I acquired requested to do and one thing I am going to always remember,” Woodland stated the day he performed with Bockerstette. “I advised her she was an inspiration to all of us and we are able to all be taught from her. … And I advised her she was a hero and to maintain doing what she’s doing as a result of we’re all going to be following her.”

Christian Petersen/Getty Photographs

2. Father’s Day has particular which means for him

In March 2017, Woodland introduced on Instagram that he and his spouse, Gabby, had been anticipating twins. He posted a picture from his spouse’s sonogram and wrote, “First time I have been excited a couple of double #twins.”

Later that month, Woodland unexpectedly withdrew from the WGC-Dell Applied sciences Match Play in Austin, Texas, for private causes. Every week later, he introduced that he and his spouse had misplaced one among their twin infants.

“Gabby and I’ve since had to deal with the heartbreaking lack of one of many infants, and our docs shall be carefully monitoring the well being of my spouse and different child for the rest of the being pregnant,” Woodland stated in a press release. “We respect the entire love and help throughout this tough time as we regroup as a household.”

Woodland’s son, Jaxson, was born 10 weeks untimely in June 2017. He weighed Three kilos and did not go away the hospital for 40 days. Jaxson is wholesome and walked the Par Three Contest together with his dad on the Masters in April.

“It is particular,” Woodland stated this weekend. “Clearly, my dad’s right here, which is superior. Sadly, my son’s at house. He turns 2 subsequent week, which is wonderful. However being a father is pretty much as good because it will get.”

Woodland introduced this week that he and his spouse predict equivalent twin women in early August.

“I’ve acquired two extra on the way in which, which is able to actually make life actually actual,” he stated. “Nevertheless it’s thrilling. [Jaxson] is a ball of fireplace, and I look ahead to getting house with him subsequent week.”

Three. He wished to play basketball at Kansas



Andy North breaks down how Gary Woodland was capable of win the U.S. Open and what Woodland proved to himself.

Woodland grew up in Topeka, Kansas, and was a basketball and golf star at Shawnee Heights Excessive College in close by Tecumseh. He wasn’t recruited by Division I faculties to play basketball, regardless of being named all-state and averaging 18 factors as a senior. In March, ESPN.com ran a narrative chronicling how Woodland beloved basketball, however as an alternative ended up in golf.

Woodland was a shooter and a hard-nosed defender. He took a cost as soon as that landed him within the hospital.

“Yeah, I keep in mind that one,” he stated. “Took a knee, collapsed my trachea, left on a stretcher. That was on a Tuesday, and scored 20-some factors on Friday [and was] participant of the week. That man was making an attempt to dunk on me.”

Woodland signed to play golf and basketball at Division II Washburn College in Topeka. After opening his freshman season in opposition to the Kansas Jayhawks in an exhibition hoops sport, he realized golf was his future. He transferred to Kansas to play golf the following 12 months.

Woodland stated what he discovered in basketball nonetheless helps him on the golf course.

“It taught me quite a bit,” he stated. “Basketball, you are not at all times going to have your finest, however you discover methods. If I am not taking pictures properly, I can go, I can play protection. There’s different issues I can do.

“I can take that to golf. If I am not driving the golf ball, now I can depend on one thing else to essentially get me by way of. It took me some time to get my sport to that place, however I really feel like I am snug doing that now.”

four. He struggled to shut prior to now — however now not

Woodland, 35, has been a PGA Tour common since 2009 and has earned greater than $23 million. He is presently ranked 25th on the planet. He beforehand had received three occasions — solely as soon as since 2013 — and was runner-up 10 occasions. However till this week, he hadn’t performed notably properly within the remaining spherical of majors — or when he had a 54-hole lead.

In keeping with ESPN Stats & Info analysis, Woodland was 14-over par within the remaining rounds of main championships since 2017, which ranked 234th out of 236 gamers going into Sunday.

It additionally was the eighth time that he had at the least a share of a 54-hole lead — and the primary time he held onto it. In January, Woodland had a five-shot lead going into the ultimate spherical of the Sentry Match of Champions at Kapalua. He shot 68 — he was the one golfer to shoot within the 60s in all 4 rounds — however he completed second when Xander Schauffele fired an 11-under 62 to win by one.

Woodland completed tied for eighth on the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black in Might (he shot 68 within the remaining spherical) and tied for sixth on the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive (69 in remaining spherical).

“It took me quite a bit to be taught to regulate adrenaline; and different sports activities you employ adrenaline to your benefit. Out right here, after I get a little bit excited, I must discover a approach to calm myself again down,” Woodland stated.

“Once I first acquired out right here, if I acquired excited, I could not management it. I did not know the way far the ball was going, acquired forward of myself. I’ve discovered to take an additional deep breath and actually begin controlling the whole lot, and never simply the sport — controlling the psychological facet too.”



Gary Woodland talks about his old flame, taking part in basketball, and the way he ultimately transitioned to develop into a golfer.

5. Gary Woodland hits it far

Driving distance wasn’t a necessity at Pebble Seaside this week, however Woodland is without doubt one of the largest hitters on the PGA Tour. He ranked 11th in driving distance earlier than this week, averaging 309 yards.

“I’ve at all times hit it far,” Woodland advised Golf Channel in 2014. “Once I first began taking part in golf as a child, that is what we did. My buddies and I might go to the vary and see who may hit it the farthest. If anybody requested me recommendation for his or her children, I might inform them to do the identical factor, as a result of it is arduous to show size. I attempted to hit the golf ball so far as I may, then I discovered to play golf later.”

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