Despite a Forgettable Return After Brain Tumor Battle, Gary Woodland Makes an ‘Emotional’ Confession

Published 01/11/2024, 9:51 PM EST

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Not his best performance in the opening round, but Gary Woodland feels relieved. The four-time PGA Tour winner almost thought his career was over. So, a trip down to Hawaii for the first outing in four months was always going to be special. But Woodland admits it got him more than he thought it would. Because much has happened since his last T27 finish at the Wyndham Championship in early August last year.

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A tumor was driving him “crazy”; he was waking up at night with frequent seizures, and premonitions of something bad happening to his family got the better of him. It only became worse after the Master, eventually forced him to undergo brain surgery. A four-month break from professional golf followed, and now the 39-year-old is back in Hawaii. In the press conference, Woodland recounted what the first tee shot was like.

Gary Woodland is feeling the kicks again

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The four-time PGA Tour winner knew it was going to be an extremely emotional moment at the Waiʻalae Country Club. But the excitement, the joy, and the relief exceeded his expectations. Gary Woodland admitted he was “a little more emotional than I thought I was going to be.

A few months ago, Woodland was not sure if he would ever hear his name being called out on the greens again. A lesion was sitting on the part of the brain that controls fear and anxiety. Gripped with fear of dying, awakened by sudden jolts at night, and struggling with anxiety, the Kansas native was almost sure that his playing days were done for good.

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So, when the announcer called out “Topeka, Kansas”, his hometown, the one-time Major winner got a kick in the gut. This was his time. A relieved Woodland lets it go in the media interaction: “Hearing my name called, there was a time when I didn’t know if that was going to be called again, so it got me a little more than I thought it was going to.” In fact, it took him  “a couple (of) holes… to settle down.” But was he happy with his performance after that?

Woodland weighs in on the first round

No one expected the 2019 U.S. Open winner to perform at his peak. Neither did Woodland himself. The 39-year-old was content with taking it slow, one drive at a time. In fact, for the first time, he was happy despite finishing 1-over par.

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The American Pro accepts his drives were disappointing. But there was a silver line nonetheless. “Didn’t drive it very well and didn’t make any putts, but outside of that iron play was beautiful,” Gary Woodland said with the characteristic smile coming back on his face. The Kansas native is tied at the 87th spot at the moment of publication.

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Written by:

Parnab Bhattacharya

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One take at a time

I, Parnab Bhattacharya, am a budding golf writer at EssentiallySports. I am keen on constantly exploring my deep-rooted love for golf through my long-time passion for writing. With a strong knack for storytelling and experience in SEO content writing, I bring a unique blend of fluent writing and technical expertise.
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Edited by:

Tushhita.barua

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