Top Ad
I DIG Radio
Listen live to the best music from around the world!
I DIG Style
Learn about the latest fashion styles and more...

Who is Gary Woodland? What you need to know about the new U.S. Open champion

Written by 
Published in Breaking News
Sunday, 16 June 2019 17:53

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Gary Woodland, who hadn't finished in the top 10 of a major championship until last year, held off a charge from two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka to win the 119th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach for his first major victory on Sunday.

Woodland, who started the final round with a one-stroke lead, shot 2-under par and finished 13 under for 72 holes to win by three strokes over Koepka, who was trying to become the first man in 114 years to win three consecutive U.S. Open titles.

If you haven't heard much about Woodland, here are five things you need to know:

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

When Woodland arrived at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in late January, PGA Tour officials asked him if he would play the famed par-3 16th hole with Special Olympics golfer Amy Bockerstette, who has Down syndrome.

Woodland was happy to do it. He met Bockerstette and her father, Joe, when he reached the 16th tee box. Bockerstette, who accepted a scholarship to play golf at Paradise Valley Community College in Phoenix in 2018, knocked her tee shot into a bunker, chipped out to 8 feet and then sank the par putt.

"That's awesome!" Woodland said.

It was the most viral video in PGA Tour history, with more than five million views.

"I've done a lot of stuff being the defending champ, but that was by far the coolest thing that I got asked to do and something I'll never forget," Woodland said the day he played with Bockerstette. "I told her she was an inspiration to all of us and we can all learn from her. ... And I told her she was a hero and to keep doing what she's doing because we're all going to be following her."

2. Father's Day has special meaning for him

In March 2017, Woodland announced on Instagram that he and his wife, Gabby, were expecting twins. He posted an image from his wife's sonogram and wrote, "First time I've been excited about a double #twins."

Later that month, Woodland unexpectedly withdrew from the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas, for personal reasons. A week later, he announced that he and his wife had lost one of their twin babies.

"Gabby and I have since had to cope with the heartbreaking loss of one of the babies, and our doctors will be closely monitoring the health of my wife and other baby for the remainder of the pregnancy," Woodland said in a statement. "We appreciate all of the love and support during this difficult time as we regroup as a family."

Woodland's son, Jaxson, was born 10 weeks premature in June 2017. He weighed 3 pounds and didn't leave the hospital for 40 days. Jaxson is healthy and walked the Par 3 Contest with his dad at the Masters in April.

"It's special," Woodland said this weekend. "Obviously, my dad's here, which is awesome. Unfortunately, my son's at home. He turns 2 next week, which is amazing. But being a father is as good as it gets."

Woodland announced this week that he and his wife are expecting identical twin girls in early August.

"I've got two more on the way, which will really make life really real," he said. "But it's exciting. [Jaxson] is a ball of fire, and I look forward to getting home with him next week."

3. He wanted to play basketball at Kansas

Woodland grew up in Topeka, Kansas, and was a basketball and golf star at Shawnee Heights High School in nearby Tecumseh. He wasn't recruited by Division I schools to play basketball, despite being named all-state and averaging 18 points as a senior. In March, ran a story chronicling how Woodland loved basketball, but instead ended up in golf.

Woodland was a shooter and a hard-nosed defender. He took a charge once that landed him in the hospital.

"Yeah, I remember that one," he said. "Took a knee, collapsed my trachea, left on a stretcher. That was on a Tuesday, and scored 20-some points on Friday [and was] player of the week. That guy was trying to dunk on me."

Woodland signed to play golf and basketball at Division II Washburn University in Topeka. After opening his freshman season against the Kansas Jayhawks in an exhibition hoops game, he realized golf was his future. He transferred to Kansas to play golf the next year.

Woodland said what he learned in basketball still helps him on the golf course.

"It taught me a lot," he said. "Basketball, you're not always going to have your best, but you find ways. If I'm not shooting well, I can pass, I can play defense. There's other things I can do.

"I can take that to golf. If I'm not driving the golf ball, now I can rely on something else to really get me through. It took me a while to get my game to that position, but I feel like I'm comfortable doing that now."

4. He struggled to close in the past -- but no longer

Woodland, 35, has been a PGA Tour regular since 2009 and has earned more than $23 million. He's currently ranked 25th in the world. He previously had won three events -- only once since 2013 -- and was runner-up 10 times. But until this week, he hadn't played particularly well in the final round of majors -- or when he had a 54-hole lead.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Woodland was 14-over par in the final rounds of major championships since 2017, which ranked 234th out of 236 players going into Sunday.

It also was the eighth time that he had at least a share of a 54-hole lead -- and the first time he held onto it. In January, Woodland had a five-shot lead going into the final round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. He shot 68 -- he was the only golfer to shoot in the 60s in all four rounds -- but he finished second when Xander Schauffele fired an 11-under 62 to win by one.

Woodland finished tied for eighth at the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black in May (he shot 68 in the final round) and tied for sixth at the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive (69 in final round).

"It took me a lot to learn to control adrenaline; and other sports you use adrenaline to your advantage. Out here, when I get a little excited, I need to find a way to calm myself back down," Woodland said.

"When I first got out here, if I got excited, I couldn't control it. I didn't know how far the ball was going, got ahead of myself. I've learned to take an extra deep breath and really start controlling everything, and not just the game -- controlling the mental side too."

5. Gary Woodland hits it far

Driving distance wasn't a necessity at Pebble Beach this week, but Woodland is one of the biggest hitters on the PGA Tour. He ranked 11th in driving distance before this week, averaging 309 yards.

"I've always hit it far," Woodland told Golf Channel in 2014. "When I first started playing golf as a kid, that's what we did. My buddies and I would go to the range and see who could hit it the farthest. If anyone asked me advice for their kids, I'd tell them to do the same thing, because it's hard to teach length. I tried to hit the golf ball as far as I could, then I learned to play golf later."

Read 125 times

Leave a comment


Cristiano Ronaldo hits 700 to join legends like Pele, Puskas and Romario

Cristiano Ronaldo hits 700 to join legends like Pele, Puskas and Romario

The Toe Poke Daily is here every day to bring you all the weirdest stories, quirkiest viral content...

England's faith in three-step protocol was rewarded. Now UEFA must get tough on racism

England's faith in three-step protocol was rewarded. Now UEFA must get tough on racism

SOFIA, Bulgaria -- As Greg Clarke, the chairman of the English Football Association, delivered an im...

Nations League 'like being amateurs' again - Tata

Nations League 'like being amateurs' again - Tata

MEXICO CITY -- Mexico coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino has reminded his players that participating in th...


LeBron: Morey 'misinformed' before China tweet

LeBron: Morey 'misinformed' before China tweet

LOS ANGELES -- LeBron James believes Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey "wasn't educated" b...

Sources: Silver, players had tense talk in China

Sources: Silver, players had tense talk in China

NBA commissioner Adam Silver held a tense meeting with players from the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angele...


Stephen Strasburg keeps Nationals' rotation on a serious roll

Stephen Strasburg keeps Nationals' rotation on a serious roll

WASHINGTON -- Gerardo Parra wrapped both arms around Stephen Strasburg and wouldn't let go. Their em...

Kendrick continues run as Nats' unlikely hero

Kendrick continues run as Nats' unlikely hero

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Howie Kendrick might not be the likeliest of heroes for the Washington Nationals...

Sports Leagues

  • FIFA

    Fédération Internationale de Football Association
  • NBA

    National Basketball Association
  • ATP

    Association of Tennis Professionals
  • MLB

    Major League Baseball
  • ITTF

    International Table Tennis Federation

Sponsored Links

I DIG® Newspapers
I Dig® Newspapers, stay up to date with the latest news from around the world.
I DIG® Casino
I Dig® Casino, explore our online casino games, play a wide range of free slots and casino games at our online casino today.
I DIG® Radio
I Dig® Radio HD is the only place in the internet where you can find free, super high bit rate internet radio stations from around the world. On I Dig® Radio HD you can find free radio stations streaming at 256kbps.

About Us

I Dig® is a leading global brand that makes it more enjoyable to surf the internet, conduct transactions and access, share, and create information.  Today I Dig® attracts millions of users every month.


Phone: (800) 737. 6040
Fax: (209) 825 5558
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.