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Monday, July 18, 2005

KU’s Woodland wins on final hole

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— Gary Woodland of Berryton sank that winning putt every golfer dreams about.

The fact that Woodland's 4-foot par putt clinched the 95th Kansas Amateur Match Play Championship made the feat even more memorable.

The Kansas University junior outdueled former Jayhawk Tyler Shelton, 1-up, with the winning par putt at the 18th hole, the 36th hole of a grueling 8-hour day at Colbert Hills Golf Course.

"You always practice putts and pretend like they are to win a big tournament," Woodland said. "I feel like I earned it. That putt was the exact same putt I'd missed the first time I played No. 18. This time I hit the putt harder and made it. No matter how you play, it always comes down to putting."

Woodland, 21, has captured the Kansas Four-Ball Championship and amateur stroke-play titles in Kansas City and Topeka.

Woodland beat qualifying co-medalists Shelton and Jesse Schulte of Hutchinson, 1-up, in back-to-back matches.

"Winning the Kansas Amateur definitely ranks on top," Woodland said. "That's my biggest achievement in golf. This is definitely the best tournament I've played. It wasn't easy. I got some good breaks and found a way to win when I didn't play my best golf."

Woodland played 2-under par to build a 3-up lead through 28 holes.

But Shelton rallied with two birdies to slice the lead to 1-up. Shelton extended the match to the final hole with a 30-foot birdie putt after he had missed earlier chances to cut the lead.

"It was a case of too little, too late," Shelton said. "By the time I got back to 1 down, there was just one hole left. But I had my chances to make it more of an even match."

Woodland played his first 18 holes in 2-under-par 70 while Shelton shot the equivalent of 1-under 71 in near perfect morning weather.

The match was square through 18 holes because Woodland three-putted twice and missed five birdie attempts inside 15 feet.

With winds gusting past 25 mph in the afternoon, Woodland shot the equivalent of 1-over 73 while Shelton shot 3-over 75.

Shelton, 32, is a 1995 KU graduate who captured the 1994 Missouri Amateur Championship.

It marked Shelton's highest Kansas Amateur finish after losing in the semifinals to 2004 Kansas Amateur champion Kevin Ward, another Jayhawk golfer.

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