Woodland lightens up for U.S. Open
When Gary Woodland tees it up this week at the U.S. Open, fans will likely see a golfer who is not the man he was a year ago. In a good way.
Indeed, the defending champion in the 2020 PGA Tour‘s second major, which takes place Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 17-20, at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y. (and airs on Golf Channel and NBC), is 27 pounds lighter than when he won a year ago at Pebble Beach. And the secret of his success was pretty simple – no fried food or sugar.
The heavier version of Woodland proved to be a formidable match for two-time defending champ Brooks Koepka in last year’s tournament. The 36-year-old native of Topeka, Kan., was leading Koepka by a shot in the final round when he went for the green on the par-5 14th. A 263-yard fairway shot just over a bunker set up a simple up-and-down for the birdie and a two-stroke lead.
Then at the par-3 17th, Woodland sailed a drive well to the right of the pin, landing 90 feet away over a hump. But he managed to save par with a nifty wedge that set up a tap in. The ensuing 30-foot birdie putt on No. 18 sealed a three-stroke victory over Koepka and gave him the lowest 72-hole score – a 13-under 271 – in six U.S. Opens at Pebble Beach.
He’ll defend his title this week against a field that includes Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Martin Kaymer, Justin Rose, Webb Simpson and Rory McIlroy.
Full name: Gary Woodland
Birth date: May 21, 1984
Birthplace: Topeka, Kan.
Residence: Delray Beach, Fla.
Height/weight: 6 feet 1 inch; 195 pounds
Family ties: He and wife Gabby have three children
Alma mater: Attended University of Kansas on a golf scholarship, graduating in 2007 with a Bechelor’s in sociology
Turned pro: 2007
PGA Tour wins: 4
Honors and achievements: Member of the 2011 World Cup and 2019 Presidents Cup teams