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Gary Woodland puts pieces together in Friday 64 at Charles Schwab Challenge

3 Min Read



    Written by Kevin Robbins

    FORT WORTH, Texas — For the first time in a long time, everything felt right for Gary Woodland.

    He started the second round of the Charles Schwab Challenge with three birdies in a row. He eagled his 10th hole, the par-5 first at Colonial Country Club, after a soaring 347-yard drive that reminded everyone on hand Friday morning of the Gary Woodland before he began to feel unwell. He made seven birdies in all in his round of 6-under 64 — a score he hadn’t shot since the Genesis Scottish Open in 2022.

    Woodland wasn’t perfect. He made three bogeys. He wanted some shots back. He wasn’t even in the lead when he finished at 4-under par.

    But he was, in some important respects, his old self. He drove it boldly, hit iron shots on his lines, scrambled tidily and putted only 23 times, spanning 96 feet.

    “I just put everything together,” the four-time TOUR winner said. “It’s been a while.”

    Gary Woodland's near ace leads to birdie at Charles Schwab

    The powerful 2019 U.S. Open champion was outside the cut line before he began his round. There are worse things in life, and he knows it. Woodland felt awful a year ago. Anxiety crippled him, on the course and off. He underwent surgery in September to remove a lesion on his brain. He was afraid for his life.

    He returned to competition in January at the Sony Open in Hawaii. He spoke honestly and candidly that week about his situation. He expressed a lot of gratitude.

    Woodland missed the cut in Hawaii and the next two. He wasn’t back to full strength. He’s still not. But he’s closer.

    He said he probably came back to tournament golf too early. The Charles Schwab Challenge is his 14th start and will represent his seventh made cut. His best finish is a tie for 21st at the Texas Children’s Houston Open in March. This could be the week that shows everyone, most importantly himself, that he can again contend.

    “It was nice to have all aspects,” Woodland said. “I drove it well, iron play, controlled the ball really well, and short game was nice and made some putts. It's been a long time since I put it all together. I've had some rounds this year where I putted it well or drove it well, but not together. That was a big change for me.”

    He said he’s feeling better. Not his best, but good enough for hope. The thing that is in good shape is his attitude. He remains thankful for every opportunity to hit a golf shot.

    “Negative energy's contagious,” Woodland said.

    Saturday is another day. He’ll play late for the first time since the symptoms started appearing. He likes Colonial. He’s played Charles Schwab four previous times, with a ninth-place finish in 2020. Back in Kansas, Woodland grew up playing a Perry Maxwell design like Colonial. The place feels familiar.

    It’s a time, he said, for good vibes all around.

    “I've been thankful, but it's been hard on myself just when you wake up and you don't feel great, and that's not a good attitude and energy to have,” he said. “It took me to going back to a place where I remembered how bad it was a year ago and I'm like, ‘Oh, wow, I'm getting better.’ I think the energy's changed for me the last three weeks and something I'll continue to build on.”

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