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Gary Woodland competing in U.S. Open for eighth time

Dustin Johnson chips onto the second green as Gary Woodland looks on during a practice round for the U.S. Open Golf Championship, Monday, June 11, 2018, in Southampton, N.Y. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Dustin Johnson chips onto the second green as Gary Woodland looks on during a practice round for the U.S. Open Golf Championship, Monday, June 11, 2018, in Southampton, N.Y. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) by Julie Jacobson (AP photographer)

The U.S. Open doesn't randomly group golfers into threesomes when making tee times. Think themes.

For example, the English threesome of Tyrrell Hatton, Danny Willett and Ian Poulter tees off No. 1 at Shinnecock Hills at 6:51 (Central time). Spaniards Sergio Garcia, Jon Rahm and Rafa Cabrero Bello tee off No. 1 at 12:14 p.m.

Money leader Justin Thomas, Official World Golf Rankings leader Dustin Johnson and TV ratings leader Tiger Woods tee off No. 1 at 12:47 p.m.

So it's never too tough to guess Gary Woodland's playing partners with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Think long ball.

Woodland, who ranks fifth on the PGA tour in driving distance (313.3), ranks third in his threesome in that statistic. Tony Finau (315.3) is second on tour, Luke List (314.6) fourth. They tee off at 12:03 p.m. from the first tee. FS1 and Fox will televise the U.S. Open.

Woodland, who on Super Bowl Sunday won the Phoenix Open for his third tour title, is coming off a slump-busting, tied-for-23rd finish in the Memorial two weeks ago. Knocked out of contention by a blow-up round on Saturday, Woodland shot 69-68-75-67 for the tournament.

The strong showing enabled Woodland to break a streak of five consecutive missed cuts.

This will be Woodland's eight U.S. Open. He missed the cut three times and his best finish, tied for 23rd, came at Congressional in 2011.

A look at how Woodland, 34, stacks up statistically against the leaders in various categories heading into the U.S. Open:

Category Gary Woodland rank PGA tour leader
Official World Golf Ranking 55 Dustin Johnson
2018 PGA Tour money list
32 ($2,011,702) Justin Thomas ($5,764,100)
Vegasinsider.com odds to win 175/1 Dustin Johnson 7/1
Driving distance 5 (313.3) Trey Mullinax (318.4)
Driving accuracy T69 (63.57)
Henrik Stenson (77.9)
Greens in regulation 5 (71.35) Henrik Stenson (75.0)
Scrambling 196 (52.47) Louis Oosthuizen (67.98)
Sand-save pct. 192 (39.84) Phil Mickelson (64.21)
Strokes gained putting 70 Jason Day
Source for stats: PGAtour.com
Reply 1 comment from David Kelley-Wood

KU men’s postseason golf, from eagles to triples

KU senior golfer Daniel Hudson, right, takes some chip shots inside the new KU Golf facility at the Jayhawk Club. Pictured from left are team members Harry Hillier, his brother Charlie Hillier, Andy Spencer, Ben Sigel and Hudson.

KU senior golfer Daniel Hudson, right, takes some chip shots inside the new KU Golf facility at the Jayhawk Club. Pictured from left are team members Harry Hillier, his brother Charlie Hillier, Andy Spencer, Ben Sigel and Hudson. by Mike Yoder

Stillwater, Okla. — Illustrations of the punitive nature of Karsten Creek, site of the NCAA championship, are easy to find.

First, consider that Northwestern, which led the first day after stroke play with a team score of 8-under 280, didn’t make the first cut, blowing up to 308 in the second round and finishing at 296 in Sunday’s third round.

The Wildcats tied for 16th with Stanford and only the top 15 advanced to today’s final round of stroke play. The top eight advance to match play.

Second, consider that Kansas which did not have anything higher than a double bogey on a card en route to winning the three-round Pacific Regional and had just four doubles, had 12 doubles and seven triples in three rounds at Karsten Creek.

Third, realize that the more Oklahoma State players compete on their home course, the more the point that conservative golf is the smart way to go.

“This course is so demanding you can’t really force anything out here,” said OSU’s Matthew Wolf, who shot 69 Sunday. “As soon as you force things and go after pins, that’s when you start making high numbers and mistakes that you wouldn’t normally make. I think we really had a good game plan sticking with being conservative.”

Karsten Creek has been OSU’s home course since 1994.

“That’s such an advantage we have knowing the course,” Wolf said.“Things might look pretty easy from the fairway, but if you miss it in one direction you’re probably making par or bogey. We stuck to our game plan well, aimed for the middle of the green and took advantage of the par 5s.”

KU senior Daniel Sutton, foreground, and other members of the KU golf team practice putting inside the new KU golf facility at the Jayhawk Club, formerly the Alvamar Country Club. The team is the 15th seed in the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships, which begin Friday in Stillwater, Okla.

KU senior Daniel Sutton, foreground, and other members of the KU golf team practice putting inside the new KU golf facility at the Jayhawk Club, formerly the Alvamar Country Club. The team is the 15th seed in the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships, which begin Friday in Stillwater, Okla. by Mike Yoder

A look at each of KU's players' score breakdowns from the NCAA finals:

Golfer Eagles Birdies
Pars Bogeys Doubes Triples Total Score
Daniel Sutton, Sr. 1 9 34 7 2 1 219 (+3)
Daniel Hudson, Sr. 0 9 34 9 1 1 221 (+5)
Harry Hillier, Fr. 1
11 27 8 4 3 228 (+12)
Andy Spencer, So.
0 7 30 14 3 0 229 (+13)
Charlie Hillier, Jr. 0 4 31 14 2 3 239 (+23)
Total
2 40 156 52 12 8 +30 (Counting top four
scores each day)

A week earlier, at The Reserve at Spanos Park in Stockton, Calif., crooked numbers were far more rare. The five Jayhawks combined for only four doubles and didn't have any doubles en route to the winning the Pacific Regional.

Player Birdies Pars Bogeys Doubles Total Score
Andy Spencer 15 32 7 0 208 (-8)
Daniel Sutton 15 30 8 1 211 (-5)
Charlie Hillier 11 35 7 1 214 (-2)
Daniel Hudson 11 33 10 0 215 (-1)
Harry Hillier 11 35 6 2 215 (-1)

The players' combined breakdowns for both the regional and the finals:

Player Eagles Birdies Pars Bogeys Doubles Triples Total Score
Daniel Sutton 1 24 64 15 3 1 430 (-2)
Daniel Hudson 0 20 67 19 1 1 436 (+4)
Andy Spencer 0 22 62 21 3 0 437 (+5)
Harry Hillier 1 22 62 14 6
3 443 (+11)
Charlie Hillier 0 15 66 21 3 3 453 (+21)
Reply

Steady Kansas one of seven Big 12 schools in men’s golf finals

In becoming one of four Big 12 schools to win one of the six NCAA men's golf regionals and one of seven Big 12 schools to advance to the finals, Kansas was a model of steadiness and consistency.

KU's team score for the three days was -7, -6, -7. For comparison purposes, second-place Stanford scored -3, -5, -11. All five KU golfers finished in the top 23 in the 75-man regional. Stanford had just two in the top 23.

Eleven of the 13 teams in the Pacific Regional in Stockton, California, had at least one eagle during the tournament. Kansas and Southern California were the lone exceptions.

All 15 rounds played by KU's five golfers fell in the 67-to-74 range and 11 of the 15 were in the 69-to-72 range.

Name Class Hometown NCAA Regional score NCAA Regional tidbits
Andy Spencer Sophomore Leawood 69-69-70—208 3.77 average on par-4 holes
lowest in regional.
Daniel Sutton Senior Birmingham, England
67-73-71—211
Opening-day 67 team's best
score for tournament.
Charlie Hillier Junior Te Puke, New Zealand 72-73-69—214 KU's low scorer on final day.
Harry Hillier Freshman Te Puke, New Zealand 74-69-72—215 Averaged team-best 4.5
on par-5 holes.
Daniel Hudson Senior Lagrange, Illinois 73-71-71—215 Team-best 1-under
on par-3 holes.

The regional round of tournament amounted to a resounding endorsement for the Big 12.

Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State won a regional, and Baylor, Iowa State and Texas Tech also will be among the field of 30 at the NCAA men's golf championships at Oklahoma State's home course, Karsten Creek, May 25-30.

This is the first time the Big 12 has had seven schools advance to the finals. TCU, which finished eighth in the Pacific Regional won by Kansas, was the only Big 12 school in the NCAA tournament that did not advance.

Reply 2 comments from Dirk Medema Pius Waldman

Kansas wins regional, advances to NCAA national championships in men’s golf for first time since 2000

When Kansas last advanced beyond the NCAA regionals in men’s golf, President Bill Clinton had recently announced that GPS access would no longer be restricted to just the U.S. military, and the Xbox did not yet exist.

It had been that long, 2000, to be exact. The drought has ended.

The Jayhawks played their way into the NCAA national championships by winning the Pacific Retional in most impressive fashion Wednesday at Spanos Regional Course in Stockton, California.

The top five schools among 13 competing at the regional qualified and Kansas left no doubt from start to finish in the final round that it would be included.

The Jayhawks finished one stroke ahead of Stanford, two ahead of Iowa State and five in front of Alabama. Oregon was in safe position to secure the final spot.

Each school had five golfers competing, but just the four best rounds each day counted toward the team score.

KU’s strong depth proved to the be the difference. All five golfers finished the regional with under-par scores.

KU’s individual finishes and places at the time its last player finished his round: Andy Spencer (-8, T5), Daniel Sutton (-5, T10), Charlie Hillier (-2, T24).Harry Hillier and Daniel Hudson both finished the tournament at 1-under.

The national championships take place May 25-30 at Karsten Creek, Oklahoma State’s home course.

Oregon’s Norman Xiong shot a 62 Wednesday and was low medalist at 15-under for the three rounds, edging Stanford’s Brandon Wu (-14).

I filed updates throughout the day, tracking the scores on golfstat.com:

3 p.m.: Andy Spencer, who birdied No. 17 to get back to 2-under on the day and 8-under for the tournament, is KU’s lone remaining player on the course. Daniel Sutton finished at 5-under, Charlie Hillier at 2-under, Harry Hillier and Daniel Hudson at 1-under.

2:45 p.m.: Freshman Harry Hillier (-20) finished his third and final round at -1, which also was his score for the tournament and Kansas expanded its lead over second-place Iowa State to three strokes.

2:30 p.m.: Junior Charlie Hillier, the first KU player to complete his round, carded a bogey on No. 18, but still shot a 3-under 69 for the Jayhawks, tied for first with Iowa State at 19-under.

2:15 p.m.: In a remarkable show of depth and consistency, all five Kansas players are under par in today's round. Andy Spencer, Daniel Sutton and Daniel Hudson each have birdied their most recent holes and Charlie and Harry Hillier have gone birdie, par in their most recent two holes. Kansas (-22) is in first place, four strokes ahead of second-place Iowa State.

2 p.m.: How is that Iowa State and Kansas are doing so well in a sport that warm-weather schools tend to dominate?

Kansas coach Jamie Bermel and Cyclones coach Andrew Tank have taken similar paths in building their rosters. Both coaches try to land the best players in their states and then head overseas to recruit tough-minded players.

KU’s five players competing in the regional come from Kansas (Andy Spencer), Illinois (Daniel Hudson), England (Daniel Sutton) and New Zealand (Charlie and Harry Hillier).

Iowa State has two players from Iowa competing, two from New Zealand and one from Australia.

With their five players having anywhere from two to three holes remaining, Kansas stands in first at 21-under, three strokes ahead of Iowa State and Alabama, who are tied for second.

Oregon’s Norman Xiong and Stanford’s Brandon Wu are tied for the individual lead at 12-under and KU’s Andy Spencer is tied for fifth at 8-under.

1:45 p.m.: Junior Charlie Hillier of New Zealand is having a terrific final round in the Pacific Regional at Spanos Regional Course in Stockton, California. Through 16 holes, Hillier had made five birdies and one bogey. His brother Harry is a bomber off the tee, but Charlie’s strength is his exceptional short game. Kansas (-21) has opened a three-stroke lead on second-place Iowa State and is 16 strokes ahead of sixth-place LSU.

1:30 p.m.: On a day when the pressure was greatest, all five Jayhawks have delivered steady rounds and not one is over par. Charlie Hillier is -3 for the day, Daniel Sutton -2, Andy Spencer -1 and Daniel Hudson and Harry Hillier are even par and Kansas remains atop the leaderboard at 19-under, one stroke in front of Iowa State.

1:15 p.m.: KU's impressive performance in the clutch continues and the Jayhawks are back on top at 20-under, two strokes ahead of Iowa State. Senior Daniel Hudson of Birmingham, England, birdied the first three holes of the back nine to move into a tie for eighth at 6-under, two strokes behind sophomore Andy Spencer of Leawood, who is tied for third.

1 p.m.: The Big 12 certainly is flexing its golf muscles in regionals across the country.

Iowa State (-20) leads Kansas by a stroke in the Pacific Regional.

Oklahoma State has an eight-stroke lead at the Columbus Regional and Texas Tech is fifth there.

Texas has a 27-stroke lead in the Raleigh Regional and Baylor is in third at the College Station Regional.

The NCAA Championships will be held from May 25-30 at Karsten Creek, home course of Oklahoma State.

12:45 p.m. The Jayhawks' aren't taking any chances and are delivering clutch performances up and down the lineup. They are tied with Iowa State for first at 19-under, 16 strokes ahead of sixth-place LSU.

Andy Spencer is tied for third at 8-under and all five golfers are tied for 24th or better in a field of 75 golfers.

12:30 p.m.: Kansas sophomore Andy Spencer, the team’s steadiest performer throughout the regional, finished his front nine with consecutive birdies to move into a tie for third place with Iowa State’s Sam Vincent at 8-under. Spencer shot 69-69 the first two rounds.

Kansas, in second place at 18-under, one stroke behind Iowa State, has a 15-stroke lead on sixth-place Colorado.

The regional includes four schools ranked int the top 20 nationally, but it looks as if just two, No. 7 Alabama and No. 18 Stanford, will qualify. No. 6 LSU is in eighth, five strokes out of fifth at even par, and No. 19 Southern California is a stroke behind LSU.

12:15 p.m.: New Zealand has been very, very good to Big 12 schools at the Pacific Regional.

Sam Vincent and Denzel Ieremia of New Zealand are Iowa State's two top scorers. Vincent is in third, Ieremia in fifth on the individual leaderboard, helping the Cyclones to the top of the team standings at 19-under, one stroke ahead of second-place Kansas. Brothers Charlie (tied for 20th) and Harry Hillier (tied for 24th) of New Zealand are competing well for KU.

Midway through the round, Kansas has a 12-stroke cushion on fifth-place Oregon.

Noon: Tied for first with Iowa State at 18-under, KU is 12 strokes ahead of fifth-place Oregon. KU has shown remarkable balance and depth. All five players are under par for the tournament. Andy Spencer is tied for fifth at 6-under. Daniel Sutton (-4) is tied for 11th. Charlie Hillier (-2) is tied for 19th and Harry Hillier and Daniel Hudson are tied for 22nd at 1-under.

11:45 a.m.: Junior Charlie Hillier has finished his front nine in 3-under with six pars and three birdies and Kansas is tied with Iowa State at 19-under, 12 strokes in front of fifth-place TCU. Things are looking good.

11:30 a.m.: Harry Hillier, Daniel Sutton and Daniel Hudson all have carded a bogey since the last update and KU has fallen into second place at 16-under and the Jayhawks' lead over fifth-place TCU has dropped from 11 to eight strokes.

11:15 a.m.: The Hillier brothers from New Zealand came to play today. Charlie a junior is 2-under through seven holes. Harry, a freshman, is 2-under through six holes. Kansas sits atop the leaderboard at 19-under, two strokes ahead of second-place Iowa State, and 11 strokes ahead of fifth-place TCU.

11 a.m.: Kansas is off to a blistering start in the third and final round of the Pacific Regional of the NCAA men's golf tournament.

With their five players (only four best count toward team score) having played through anywhere from two to six holes, the Jayhawks are 5-under on the day and in a first-place tie with Iowa State at 18-under.

Reply 11 comments from Marius7782 Buck Bukaty Titus Canby Dirk Medema David Kelley-Wood The_muser Tom Keegan Dave Coen Pius Waldman

Kansas gunning for first appearance in NCAA golf championships since 2000

The Kansas men’s golf team made it to an NCAA regional nine times in Ross Randall’s final 10 seasons of a 27-year career as head coach, a stretch that included eight consecutive appearances (1998-2005). Upon Randall’s retirement after the 2007 season, KU experienced an eight-year drought and is in the midst of a revival under sixth-year coach Jamie Bermel.

The Jayhawks are playing in an NCAA Regional for the third consecutive year, this time the Pacific Regional in Stockton.

If KU can finish in the top five, it will advance to the NCAA Finals for the first time since 2000. Off to a good start, the Jayhawks were in second at the beginning of the second of three days of competition.

Kansas is seeking its sixth appearance in the NCAA Championships.

A look at some details of the first five:

Year Place in NCAA
Championships
Top Individual
at regional
Top individual
at championships
1989 22 John Ogden/ John Sinovic
Sean Thayer MC/148
1993 15 Matt Gogel Matt Gogel (T-34)
1996 15 Dan Rooney Slade Adams (T-21)
1999 22 Chris Thompson Ryan Vermeer (T-23)
2000 21 Conrad Roberts Ryan Vermeer (T-30)

Live scoring is available at golfstat.com. It offers a hole-by-hole scorecard for each player. A quick check of it this morning revealed that Daniel Sutton had carded an early bogey, Andy Spencer an early birdie, drawing them into a tie for fourth place in the individual standings. Shortly after that, KU had pulled within a stroke of first-place Iowa State in the team standings, thanks to consecutive birdies from Harry Hillier.

Warning: Tracking golfers via live scoring can be very addictive.

2:08 p.m. update: Kansas is in first place in the team standings, one stroke ahead of Alabama, the nation's No. 7-ranked team.

2:12 p.m. update: Kansas has fallen two strokes behind Alabama.

2:19 p.m. update: The Jayhawks have drawn within one stroke of Alabama.

2:32 p.m. update: KU and the Crimson Tide are tied for first at 14-under.

2:48 p.m. update: Kansas has fallen into second-place tie with Iowa State at 13-under, one stroke behind Alabama.

2:56 p.m. update: Kansas has dropped into third place, one stroke behind co-leaders at 14-under Alabama and Iowa State.

3:09 p.m. update: The top four scores from the five golfers competing for each team count, so after two days, that's eight rounds per team, a lot of room for separation, yet somehow the team scores are almost always so close. That always blows me away.

Alabama and Iowa State are atop the team leaderboard with 562 strokes (14-under) and Kansas is third with 563 (13-under). The rest of the schools still have golfers on the course. At the moment, Stanford stands four at 8-under, TCU fifth at 7-under.

Reply 8 comments from Jerry Ryan Dirk Medema Tom Keegan The_muser

Chris Thompson tied for third, two strokes off lead, heading into final day of Web.com Tour event

Two-time Kansas All-American and Lawrence Country Club member Chris Thompson shot a 3-over par 75 and dropped two spots into a third-place tie heading into the final round of the United Leasing and Finance Championship, a Web.com Tour event.

Thompson and Taylor Moore are two strokes behind leader Maverick McNealy and one stroke behind Jose de J Rodriguez and Ethan Tracy.

Only eight players shot sub-par rounds Saturday at Victoria National in Newburg, Ind., considered one of the toughest tracks on the tour.

McNealy has held the lead at the end of each day, shooting 64-73-74. Thompson has shot 72-66-75.

The Golf Channel airs three hours (2 p.m. to 5 p.m.) of the final round.

Thompson tees off at 11:19 with Moore, of San Angelo, Texas, and Brett Drewitt of Australia.

Reply

Jayhawks competing on three PGA tours

Gary Woodland smiles for photographers with the championship trophy after his one-hole playoff win after the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Gary Woodland smiles for photographers with the championship trophy after his one-hole playoff win after the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) by Ross D. Franklkin (Associated Press)

Bookmark pgatour.com to follow former three University of Kansas golfers who are members of three different PGA tours.

Gary Woodland scored his third career PGA Tour victory at the Pheonix Open on Super Bowl Sunday. After missing the cut at The Masters, Woodland is taking off a second week in a row before resuming his schedule.

Former Kansas University golfer Chris Thompson watches his tee shot on the second hole during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament in Pinehurst, N.C., Thursday, June 12, 2014.

Former Kansas University golfer Chris Thompson watches his tee shot on the second hole during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament in Pinehurst, N.C., Thursday, June 12, 2014.

Chris Thompson of the Web.com Tour finished in a tie for seventh at the Panama Championship the same day Wooldand won. Thompson tees off No. 10 Thursday in the first round of the North Mississippi Classic.

Reigning Big 12 champion Chase Hanna watches his second shot fly over a pond and settle on the left fringe on the seventh hole at Lions Gate. Making his professional debut on his 23rd birthday Friday, Hanna birdied five of his first six holes and finished with a 4-under 67, good for a 28th-place tie heading into Saturday's second round.

Reigning Big 12 champion Chase Hanna watches his second shot fly over a pond and settle on the left fringe on the seventh hole at Lions Gate. Making his professional debut on his 23rd birthday Friday, Hanna birdied five of his first six holes and finished with a 4-under 67, good for a 28th-place tie heading into Saturday's second round. by Tom Keegan

Defending Big 12 individual champion Chase Hanna is playing on the Latinoamerica Tour, which makes a stop in Buenos Aires, Argentina this week. Hanna tees off at 11:40 a.m. Thursday.

Live scoring is available for all three tours, and extensive statistical information is tracked for players on the PGA Tour and Web.com Tour. A look at how Woodland, 33, Thompson, 21, and Hanna, 23, are doing so far this season.

Former KU golfer
Tour Driving distance
(tour rank)
Driving accuracy
Avg. putts
Events/
Cuts made
Money list
Gary Woodland
PGA 311.7 (6)
61.77 pct. (89)
1.67 (203)
13/10 $1,934,717 (25)
Chris Thompson
Web.com 304.1 (27)
58.33 pct. (90)
1.75 (36)
6/4
$23,462 (54)
Chase Hanna
Latinomaerica NA
NA NA 3/2 $2,191 (56)
Source: pgatour.com
Reply 1 comment from Marius7782

Count Kansas basketball coach Bill Self among proud Gary Woodland fans

Gary Woodland smiles for photographers with the championship trophy after his one-hole playoff win after the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Gary Woodland smiles for photographers with the championship trophy after his one-hole playoff win after the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) by Ross D. Franklkin (Associated Press)

From the back tees at Lawrence Country Club, the first hole measures 359 yards. The first time Kansas basketball coach Bill Self played a round of golf with Gary Woodland the PGA touring pro stuck his drive onto the green, 15 feet short of the pin.

Woodland made the eagle putt and somehow Self never caught him and passed him.

Woodland cheers passionately for his alma mater’s basketball team and Self returns the favor. Self said he watched Woodland capture his third and most prestigious PGA tour victory Sunday night in the Waste Management Open in a playoff and then heard from him later in the night.

“I can’t believe that they played the Waste Management Open prior to the Super Bowl. They should have played that after the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl was a warmup for that,” Self said. “But no, that was exciting for anybody who supports Kansas and obviously supports Gary. For Gary and his wife, Gabby, who have been through as much as they have in the last calendar year, I’m sure it was an overwhelming feeling of emotion that took place when he was making a 1-footer on the 19th hole to win it, so we’re all proud of him and happy.”

Self is such a Woodland fan that he accurately cited where the former Washburn University guard blessed with a soft 3-point shooting touch stands in the Official World Golf Rankings and Fed Ex Cup standings.

“I saw where he went to 25th in the world on that one win,” Self said. “He’s fifth in the Fed Ex points now, so he’s playing with house money here for a little bit. so hopefully he’ll keep it going.”

Reply 2 comments from Jim Stauffer Buck Bukaty

Gary Woodland has life, golf game pointing skyward

Gary Woodland celebrates his win after a one-hole playoff against Chez Reavie on the 18th green during the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Gary Woodland celebrates his win after a one-hole playoff against Chez Reavie on the 18th green during the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) by Ross D. Franklkin (Associated Press)

Watching him on TV, it was obvious that Gary Woodland kept emotion at bay after he shot a 64 to become the leader in the clubhouse by two strokes and waited to see if anyone could catch him.

Woodland was on the practice range, staying warmed up, when he heard the roar of the gallery at the 18th hole, which let him know that Chez Reavie had caught him and the Waste Management Phoenix Open would be decided in a sudden-death playoff. He twisted open a cold bottle of water, took a sip, and put it back in his bag.

He showed no signs of distress when his drive on the first playoff hole went into one of the church-pew bunkers left of the fairway on No. 18 and his opponent’s was in the middle of the fairway.

Woodland won the hole and the tournament with a par and Reavie, who had birdied the final two holes to force the playoff, made bogey.

After tapping in to win it, Woodland pointed to the sky, then did his CBS interview with son Jaxon in his arms. Woodland and wife Gabby had been expecting twins but lost their daughter midway through the pregnancy.

Woodland finally grew emotional in the press tent after the tourney when discussing why he pointed to the sky.

“Yeah, that was just kind of a tribute to last year,” Woodland said with tear-filled eyes. “Obviously we lost a little girl and being there seeing my wife give birth to her, that's real and just wanted her to know I still love her.”

Jaxon was born 10 weeks premature last June and spent an extended period in the hospital.

After his one-hole playoff win, Gary Woodland holds his son Jaxson on the 18th green after the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

After his one-hole playoff win, Gary Woodland holds his son Jaxson on the 18th green after the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) by Ross D. Franklin (Associated Press)

“Obviously he's been through a lot and we just didn't want to expose him to too many people,” Woodland told reporters in the press tent. “So it's been nice to have him on the road the last five weeks. We went out to Hawaii early so I've been with him for five straight weeks which is amazing. But he hasn't been out at the courses, he's kind of been at the room all five weeks.”

For a player who went through so much last season Woodland played remarkably well in all areas except one. His putter betrayed him when he contended. It was terrific in the Phoenix Open, Woodland’s third PGA Tour victory, and has been steady all season.

Woodland had been working with noted putter Brad Faxson on his stroke early in his career and made everything he looked at on the final day in winning his first tournament, the Transitions in 2011.

“My first couple years out here spent a lot of time with Fax and played a lot of practice rounds with him and just haven't seen him much since he went to the Champions Tour, but now we're living close to each other,” Woodland said. “I spent some time with him in the offseason just trying to free me up, not really mechanically, but more mentally and the putter has been coming. Strokes gained (statistic) has been really good this year, but I feel like I can make a lot of putts and I haven't felt that way in a long time. And obviously with the way I hit it and now I'm confident with the short game, and the putter starts working, good things will happen.”

Woodland works with world-famous Butch Harmon on his swing and worked with Pete Cowen on his short game at the Shark Shootout.

Woodland, 33, won his first tournament at the age of 26, his second at 28. He had to wait five years for his third, prompting someone to ask him if he thinks he has underperformed.

“There's no doubt about that. Now, I probably got out here too soon. Obviously I came to the game late, but I got through Q-School very quickly,” Woodland said. “Fortunately I got hurt my rookie year in 2009 and I missed a year, which really allowed me to kind of adjust and adapt to being out here. I came from college, I played a year of basketball (at Washburn), four years (of golf) at Kansas, and then really got out here right away and it was an adjustment, because my game wasn't ready, I was just athletic. And I won right away in 2011, so expectations got high. And didn't play great, got hurt again in 2012 and battled injuries for awhile.”

Woodland appears to have put the wrist injuries that dogged him behind him.

“Last three years I've been healthy,” he said. “I haven't put four rounds together, so that's been frustrating. When you win early on you want to, you want that feeling.”

He appeared to want it too badly at times.

“I put myself in a lot of positions to win I have a lot of second place finishes the last four or five years I just haven't done it and that adds up. That adds a lot of pressure.”

Woodland has been a tireless worker throughout his career and nothing makes it all seem worthwhile quite like standing atop a loaded field. Former Oklahoma State golfer Rickie Fowler finished the third round in first place Saturday, hours after his alma mater upset Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse. Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Zach Johnson also were in the field. Jordan Spieth and Retief Goosen each missed the cut by a stroke.

“I have a lot of people around me, which is a good thing, but everybody expects you to play well and when you don't have the results, that's tough,” Woodland said. “So this validates that we're doing the right things and I believe I have a long way to go, but I believe I have a lot of time to do that and I'm excited about what the future holds.”

Reply 4 comments from Len Shaffer Tom Keegan Richard Wright Jayhawkmarshall

Golfer Chase Hanna making professional debut, teeing off with fellow Jayhawk Chris Thompson

Chase Hanna

Chase Hanna

Butterflies inevitably accompany any athlete making his professional debut, but reigning Big 12 men’s golf champion Chase Hanna does have a few factors that could ease them.

For one thing, he’s playing in his hometown. For another, he has a fellow Jayhawk competing right alongside him.

Hanna, a recent graduate from the University of Kansas, received a sponsor’s exemption to get into the field for the Digital Ally Open, a web.com tour event.

Lawrence resident Chris Thompson, 41, a two-time All-American during his Kansas days and a veteran professional golfer, and Hanna are in the final threesome to tee off Thursday at LionsGate in Overland Park.

“We’re really excited about that,” Hanna said of two Jayhawks playing together. “He’s a great guy and certainly a hell of a player. It will be fun playing with him. I should be a comfortable pairing. It should be fun.”

Matt Mabery, 23, of Tulsa will join the two Jayhawks for a 2:15 tee time Thursday. The trio tees off at 9 a.m. in Friday’s second round. Mabery gained entry to the tournament via a Monday qualifier. Thompson earned a spot with a top-25 finish in last weekend’s web.com event in Omaha.

“Hopefully, there will be a bunch of KU fans watching us since we’re playing together,” Hanna said.

Thompson predicted scores would be “crazy low,” and added, “it’s a great course and it’ll be in great shape.”

The top 25 finishers on the web.com money list earn PGA tour cards for the following season. Andrew Landry, this season’s leader on the web.com tour money list with $276,118, tees off at 7:50 a.m. Thursday. Augusto Nuñez ranks 25th with $116,421.

The Digital Ally Open field includes Beau Hossler, who in 2011 at the age of 16 qualified for the U.S. Open. He qualifed again in 2012 and momentarily held the lead in the second round at The Olympic Club on his way to finishing 29th. Hossler, who played his college golf at Texas, missed Q school because of an injury and has played in just six web.com tour events, yet already ranks 18th on the money list with $149,312. He tees off at 12:45 p.m. Thursday.

Hanna said he found out about his sponsor’s exemption after winning the Big 12 individual title at Prairie Dunes.

“I think that certainly helped,” Hanna said. “I don’t have too many expectations for this week. Obviously, I’d like to make the cut. I look at it as a great experience whether I get first or dead last. It will really help me just getting the experience.”

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