By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LEMONT, Ill. -- To say Gary Woodland didn't get off to a good start at the BMW Championship would be an understatement.
Bogeys on his first three holes had the big-hitting man from Kansas in free fall early. Ditto for his playing partners, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson -- in fact, the group was a combined 11 over through their first eight holes on Thursday.
But Woodland turned things around with four birdies on his back nine to shoot 1 under in the first round. And on Friday he shot up the leaderboard with a 68 that left him at 5 under and tied for 12th.
"All of us got off to a rough start yesterday and fortunately I kind of settled down a little bit and got some putts to go in," Woodland said. "Today the course played a lot easier than it did yesterday. Yesterday the wind was blowing and it played pretty tough. Today there's no wind. it was out there to get one."
Woodland, who picked up his first TOUR win earlier this year, said the turnaround was more psychological than physical. He concentrated on making pars and when the birdie opportunities presented themselves he was ready.
"Finally I got a putt to go in and the door opened up for us," Woodland said. "I just had to calm down and start over. It's all mental. I didn't hit that bad of shots and that's what I told myself. Just got a couple of bad breaks and hopefully just get one to go in."
Woodland, who ranks fifth on TOUR in driving distance, trails the leaders by seven shots but he has two days to make up the deficit. He's pleased with the way he’s playing overall.
"I was a little frustrated with the three bogeys yesterday and I made a double on a par 5 today but outside of that I played great,” Woodland said. “So eliminate the mistakes and hope we have a big weekend.
“Obviously, if you're going to make three bogeys in a row, you might as well do it the first three holes out and get it out of the way. But I'm in pretty good position and there's a lot of golf left so I'm going to have to play well.”