THE PRESIDENTS CUP
Woodland makes statement at ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP with 64Strengthens already strong case for Presidents Cup captain’s pick
October 24, 2019
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Gary Woodland's interview after Round 1 of ZOZO
Tiger Woods doesn’t have to look far to find a hot player for one of his four captain’s picks for the U.S. Presidents Cup Team that will play the Internationals at Royal Melbourne in December.
Gary Woodland, the guy right next to him atop the leaderboard at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP.
“I mean, obviously, I’m off next week, so I can think about that next week,” said Woodland, the reigning U.S. Open champion, who shot one of just two bogey-free rounds in tricky winds at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Chiba, Japan. “Right now I’m just trying to continue the golf tournament, give myself a chance on Sunday.
“He knows how much I want to be on that team,” Woodland added. “I’ve talked to him about it. So for me, I’ll just go out and play well and everything will take care of itself.”
Woods will make his four captain’s picks, as will International Captain Ernie Els, on Nov. 4.
Woodland hasn’t made much noise since he won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in June, but there were bigger things in play. After experiencing complications and tragically losing one of their two twins in 2017, his wife, Gabby, gave birth to identical twin girls in August.
The U.S. Open champ narrowly missed qualifying for the Presidents Cup on points, and finished a lackluster T55 at his season-opening start at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas. Tee-to-green issues lingered after creeping into his game for the latter half of last season.
Still, it was assumed that the 35-year-old Kansan was a favorite for one of Woods’ picks. (As is Woods himself.) At 7,041-yard, par-70 Accordia in the first round, Woodland only strengthened his case. He led the field with a 1.39 putting average, and he and Woods shot identical 64s on a day when the field average was over par (71.155).
Several big names struggled.
Reigning FedExCup champion Rory McIlroy, making his first start of the new season, shot 72. Jason Day came in with 73, as did countryman Adam Scott. Jordan Spieth shot 74.
Justin Thomas, coming off a victory at THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES, shot 1-under 70.
Woodland, encouraged by his 65-66 weekend and T3 finish at THE CJ CUP, kept right on going. His lackluster tee-to-green play after the U.S. Open now seems to be a thing of the past.
“I worked so hard on short game I kind of lost ball-striking a little bit,” he said. “After Vegas, I put a lot of work in; the ball-striking’s coming back where I want it. I’ve got to rely on that, and when I putt it well, good things will happen.”
Gary Woodland's birdie putt on No. 18 at ZOZO