Woodland defends U.S. Open title at Winged Foot


Woodland lightens up for U.S. Open

Gary Woodland

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

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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