Old AAU basketball teammate Stephen Vinson one of many in PGA gallery watching Gary Woodland
Gary Woodland was probably a little light in estimating that 75 to 100 spectators came from Kansas to watch him compete Thursday in the first day of the 100th PGA.
His high school golf coach and high school basketball coach were in the crowd, as were many friends from his high school and college days.
I ran into a grandmother, husband, wife and four young children who made the trip from Overland Park to watch Woodland. Former Lawrence High star and University of Kansas walk-on Stephen Vinson and his family followed Woodland, a former AAU basketball teammate of Wooldand’s.
“Gary was a shoot-first point guard, but to his credit he could shoot from his far away from the basket as anyone I ever played with,” Vinson said on a bus ride from a hotel to Bellerive Country Club before Woodland teed off Thursday. “He had great range from a young age. He would be a good three, four steps behind the NBA line and he still would shoot. That was the part of the game he enjoyed the most. He was a really good shooter.”
I bounced my theory that shooting a basketball and putting are similar skills and that I’ve always maintained that a good putter is somewhere inside Woodland just needs to be freed.
“I would agree,” Vinson said. “He was a very good baseball player too, a very good shortstop. I played against him in baseball. That wasn’t very fun either. Like a lot of kids, if you’re good at something, you’re good at everything.”
Vinson said Joey Devine, who went 8-3 with a 2.75 ERA in seven seasons in the major leagues as a reliever with the Atlanta Braves and Oakland A’s, was on the AAU team also.