What they said: Gary Woodland

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March 20, 2011
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: Transitions Championship transcript archive

DOUG MILNE: We'd like to welcome Gary Woodland, the 2011 Transitions Championship winner. Congratulations, your third 4-under 67 today to get the job done. With this win you collect 500 FedExCup points and move to third in the standings. Obviously this time last year you mentioned you were playing ping-pong, literally, and here you are now a PGA TOUR champion. Just some comments.

GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, it was a great week. You know, obviously I had surgery August of '09, and it's been a long road back. But I can't say enough for Randy Smith and Dallas. I mean, we sat down right when I got hurt, and obviously that could be a big setback, but we turned it into a positive. We attacked my stats, short game needed to improve, driving the golf ball needed to improve, and that's what we've worked on for the last year and a half.

We started seeing results this year once I got healthy.

Q. Do you always putt this good??

GARY WOODLAND: You know, we've worked hard on it. I think that's the one thing that's really held me back over the years, and through working a little bit with Brad Faxon and Randy Smith together, us three, we've really attacked it this year. It's been coming along.

I didn't putt very well at the Bob Hope when I lost, and that's kind of what's held me back. I've had three top sixes coming into this week but didn't putt well on Sunday. Up to that point I putted well but not under the pressure, and today that's won the tournament.

Q. Just talk about the last two holes, the birdie on 17 and then the --

GARY WOODLAND: 17 was a 5-iron. I think we had 220 hole, and I was really struggling hitting the ball all day, and it was probably the best swing I made, right at it. I got up there, and it was just behind the hole 15, 20 feet, and the putt really never left. It was always in.

18, I hit a perfect drive. I wanted to hit 3-wood and my caddie talked me into 2-iron. Obviously I had a lot of adrenaline. I got up there and I had 148 in the middle of the fairway. Adrenaline got the best of me. I hit pitching wedge from 148 and it felt like it went forever. I had a putt down the hill and the thing just took off, it was so fast, and I got over it, a 12-, 14-footer, whatever it was, just up the hill and tried to hit it in the back of the hole, and fortunately it went in.

Q. Faxon said that your pace with the putter was maybe slow, and you sped it up a little bit. Is that right??

GARY WOODLAND: Absolutely.

Q. What did you get out of Brad, the main stuff that you got out of him.

GARY WOODLAND: The more I got out of Brad was mental stuff, preparation. You know, he was talking about my stroke was a little slow, and maybe that's why I was coming up at the Bob Hope. I kept coming up short right. He gave me a drill. He talked to Randy Smith about it. Randy gave me a drill to work on it. The last couple weeks we've really focused on the speed of the putter, and it's really taken off.

Q. What did you do to pick up pace??

GARY WOODLAND: Just a little pretty much hitting into tees, hitting into golf clubs. Randy puts a stick down and I hit into the stick. Fax puts two tees down, I hit into the tees, just stop the putter, but it allows me to pick up the pace of the putter right from the start.

Q. You mentioned the number of high finishes before this week, really without a lot of experience on the TOUR. What would you attribute that to? Why is it you've been able to come out here and perform so well despite the lack of experience?

GARY WOODLAND: Just sports growing up. I played a lot of sports. I played baseball until I was 16. I played basketball in college one year. I've competed a lot at a national level, just not in golf. So out here we've been trying to transition everything I've done in my life to golf.

I got out here in '09. I wasn't a very good golfer. I was athletic, but I didn't know what I was doing out here. I got hurt, and I had time to step back and really figure out how to play this game. And I'm starting to figure that out right now.

Q. You mentioned yesterday I'm learning how to play this game and now mentioned it again today. What are you learning??

GARY WOODLAND: You know, I can't come out here and hit the golf ball 900 yards and win. I mean, I flew in -- I didn't feel comfortable with my game last week. I've been playing well, I just didn't feel comfortable. I flew in to see Randy Smith, and he talked to me on Sunday, saying, the guys that win here are very conservative, they're veterans and we're going to have to play a very conservative game plan.

We did that. I was very conservative this week, laid back almost all day, all four days, and just tried to get the ball in the fairway, get it on the green and let the putter do the work. That's what I'm learning. I'm learning you can't just come out here and fire at every pin and hit driver on every hole. I did that '09 and it didn't work out very well.

Q. You hit about five drivers a day??

GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, four to five, just depending on the wind. The wind switched a little bit today, so I think I hit maybe five today, but it's mostly about four a day.

Q. How were the nerves on the back nine??

GARY WOODLAND: They were fine. I mean, I had a lot of adrenaline. I really wasn't nervous. I think it was the adrenaline I was trying to control. When I started making putts, the crowd started getting loud. I started getting -- kind of took me back to basketball days. I was getting pretty pumped up, so I was trying to control that. I didn't do a very good job on 18 obviously, but yeah, nerves were pretty good.

Q. The win and then the other three top six finishes, the quick ascent really, what are the main two, three things you would attribute to that??

GARY WOODLAND: I'm driving the golf ball a lot better, driving it better and my short game is better. I think that's it. I'm not doing anything different. You know, Randy and I, we haven't changed anything. I'm just better at what we've been working on. You know, we put a golf swing -- I've been with Randy for five or six years now. We put a golf swing together within the first year I've been with him and we haven't changed anything since, we're just trying to master it. You know, I attribute it all to that, just getting better at what I do.

Q. You mentioned all the learning that you're doing. Is there still a lot to learn do you think??

GARY WOODLAND: Yeah. I mean, we're just tip of the iceberg right now. I'm not anywhere near where I want to be. I've just got to keep building on it, just keep moving in the right direction. These are signs that we're doing the right things.

Q. Just a couple basketball questions if I could. Washburn is what division??

GARY WOODLAND: Division II.

Q. Is it true you scored 30 at Allen Fieldhouse once??

GARY WOODLAND: No, I scored three points.

Q. That's a shame, that would have been a good story.

GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, it would have been. I tried. I shot it a lot, I just didn't score 30.

Q. You got an offer to KU and wanted to go to Washburn and play basketball, and after a year not in the cards and the scholarship was still there for you??

GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, KU was the only school that recruited me out of high school, Division I wise, and I kind of took that negatively. I thought, maybe I'm not that good. I was pretty good for Kansas but I never played anything nationally. So I decided I wanted to still play basketball. My first game was in Allen Fieldhouse, we got smoked by Kansas, and I realized maybe I need to do something different; this isn't going to work.

I called -- the coach at Kansas told me when I decided I was going to play basketball, he said, you're going to change your mind, you have a future in this game. I called him a year later, and here we stand.

Q. Three points??

GARY WOODLAND: Three points. I was 1 for 7.

Q. How does your bracket look this week??

GARY WOODLAND: Horrible. Horrible. I mean, it's so bad, Kansas is in it, and that's all that matters right now. I'm the worst bracketologist in the world. I pick who I want to win, not who should win.

Q. Was Self there when you were there??

GARY WOODLAND: No, Self wasn't there when I was there; Roy Williams was there. Self came in, I told everybody we were a package deal; we came in the same year.

Q. You didn't play anything -- most of your national competition you said was in baseball??

GARY WOODLAND: Was baseball and basketball.

Q. What's the biggest thing -- what kind of golf experience did you have before you got to KU??

GARY WOODLAND: I played in FCWT, Future Collegiate World Tour or whatever it was. I played in a couple of those. That was it.

Q. The telecast mentioned that your only win as a pro was a pro-am in Kansas??

GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, the High Plains Pro-Am out in Garden City, Kansas.

Q. What year??

GARY WOODLAND: '08.

Q. I heard 16 was the most challenging hole. How did you play it??

GARY WOODLAND: It's probably the most demanding tee shot out there. You know, today the wind was in, but it's been downwind the last couple days and I've hit iron off the tee box so it wasn't playing that difficult. Today it was into the wind and I hit 3-wood, 7-iron. Hit a great tee ball, horrible second shot, and I hit a bad bunker shoot, too, and made bogey.

Q. How much did you win from the High Plains Pro-Am??

GARY WOODLAND: $17,500.

Q. Obviously you're longer, but it sounds like Randy Smith has got you playing the way he taught Justin Leonard how to play.

GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, you know, I try to pick Justin's brain as much as I can. I think he gets tired of me being around. You can learn so much from that guy, and you talk about guys -- I played with Paul Casey this week. He looked like he struggled all day and he shoots even par. That's something that I hadn't had in the past. You know, Nick Watney today, I played with him at the Farmers when he shot 63. I told him if he did it again he had to pay me today. I'm playing with great players, too, and I learn a lot from them.

Q. Did the Masters ever creep into your mind at all today or the fact that you're going to get in there by winning??

GARY WOODLAND: No, it didn't. I was just trying to take care of a shot. I was struggling all day hitting the golf ball, so that's all fine and dandy. I'm so excited playing the Masters, excited for the FedEx, I'm moving up in that, excited to go to Kapalua next year, but today I was just trying to get the golf ball on the green.

Q. Might you go there early? Your power game obviously fits.

GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, I'll take it tonight and see what's going on. I'm looking forward to the Masters. I've never been there, so I'm looking forward to being there.

Q. You talked about how it's important to handle adrenaline. There's no way to really simulate that. How important from that standpoint do you think it was being in contention this year and having a couple chances and getting in that position and feeling that adrenaline? Did that help you today?

GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, the problem at the Bob Hope, I didn't make any putts. I really had no adrenaline going all day. I hit it beautifully, just never really got anything going. Phoenix, when I was in contention there, we were stopping and going with the daylight. I came out on Monday and there was nobody. I started on 16, there was nobody in there.

So the adrenaline hasn't been there lately. It was there today and I didn't handle it as well as I would have liked to have. But the main thing is you've got to take more deep breaths, you've got to step back, take a little more time.

Q. Is it more of a problem for you because you've got that innate incredible power that a lot of guys don't have??

GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, I've got to slow down. If anything I was getting quick. I was quick all day. I don't hit the ball left. I think Randy and I really attacked that. We eliminated the left side of the golf course, and I hit it left all day today, and that's just being quick. I mean, every hole I think I hit it left.

Q. Except on one shot, and I was wondering if you could walk us through 11.

GARY WOODLAND: I hit it and I started laughing. I don't hit it left; I cut the driver, and the wind was left to right. It's a tough tee shot for me with the wind going that direction. Just got quick, and I over-corrected it. I was aiming so far left I was aiming out of bounds and I just stopped because I didn't want to hit it left and I hit it so far right, and the wind just -- I mean, I was over on 17.

Q. Could you have gone to 12 tee??

GARY WOODLAND: No, I couldn't hook it around -- I could have gone to 12 fairway, but my caddie and I decided we were going to try to get it on 17 tee box, and I kind of laid it too far back. But I mean, I still had 6-iron into the green, I just kind of hit it a little heavy and came up short.

Q. Were you aware you had to make par??

GARY WOODLAND: I didn't know that until somebody told me when I got done. I knew I was making birdies, and I knew I made a couple bogeys in there, just like I said, I was just trying to get it on the green. I was really struggling with that all day. Once I got there, I felt pretty comfortable.

Q. Does this change your plans to watch KU tonight??

GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, I mean, I've got that DirecTV app. I'll probably watch it on my iPad, I guess, when I'm driving back to Orlando. That probably won't be too safe.

Q. You were watching Webb play 18 and he had almost kind of the same little -- are you glad you had a putter in your hand and he was chipping? Was his shot that much harder than yours?

GARY WOODLAND: It was just really fast. It was tough to stop. I didn't even think I hit the putt. I didn't think I got it over the hill before it started going down. It surprised me how fast it was. Webb is a great guy. He's a good friend of mine. He's obviously going through a lot just having a beautiful little baby. He'll be around for a long time.

Q. People like five, ten years ago talked about people who used to gravitate to other sports come to golf. You look at Dustin Johnson, now we look at you. Is this what we're seeing??

GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, I think if you're athletic you can play this game. It's a lot of hand-eye coordination. I think every athlete -- it's one of those deals where athletes can come play golf, but golfers, it's tough, we can't go dunk a basketball. We can't go hit a 100-mile-an-hour fastball, but they can come play our game, so I think golf attracts a lot of athletes.

Q. What happens when you get someone who can dunk who decides to play golf instead??

GARY WOODLAND: Then you've got a pretty good combination, and Dustin can do that.

Q. Can you do it??

GARY WOODLAND: I used to be able to dunk. I can't dunk anymore.

Q. What did you play in baseball??

GARY WOODLAND: Shortstop.

Q. Because of your high-level performance in other sports, did that make your learning curve a little shorter here in terms of dealing with nerves??

GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, for sure. That's what Randy and I always talked about. It wasn't being in contention that I was ever going to struggle with, it was getting in contention. It was learning how to play this game. Once I learned how to play, we thought we'd be pretty good. The whole deal with me is learning how to play this game.

Q. You were a bit of a late commit. What had you heard about the course or the tournament??

GARY WOODLAND: I had heard nothing but good things about this golf course. Everybody I talked to said it was phenomenal. The whole deal was how I felt; I was hoping to get in Doral, and I was going to see how I felt that week to come. But I heard nothing but good things about this golf course. Randy really wanted me to come. He said it was a great golf course for me because I could hit 2-iron.

Q. Who do you pick to win it all in college basketball??

GARY WOODLAND: Kansas.

Q. 15??

GARY WOODLAND: The ball was buried, it was sitting so far down. I was trying to land it in the rough, it just came out bad. I was trying to land it in there to bounce it out forward.

Q. How does it feel to not try to get into somewhere? I mean, now you're in everywhere.

GARY WOODLAND: It's been great because obviously I got off to a good start and I was able to pick my schedule for the most part besides Doral, the Masters. I mean, two years ago when I was on TOUR I didn't even get in this -- I wasn't even qualified for this tournament, my number in the reshuffle was down so much. Getting off to the good start allows me to come to big events like this, and obviously it's taken off.

Q. For at least the next two years is that a check off the list now??

GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, it is. It's a good thing. I'm just still trying to do what I do, and hopefully we'll see where it goes.

DOUG MILNE: Gary, congratulations.

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