Wood­land jug­gling golf with fam­ily, busi­ness

The Korea Times - - SPORTS -

By all ac­counts, Gary Wood­land had a whirl­wind of a 2018-2019 sea­son on the PGA Tour, which in­cluded his first ca­reer ma­jor cham­pi­onship in June and twin girls join­ing a two-year-old boy in the Wood­land fam­ily in Au­gust.

The reign­ing U.S. Open cham­pion en­joyed a much-needed five weeks off af­ter the sea­son-end­ing Tour Cham­pi­onship and came back recharged for the Shriners Hos­pi­tals for Chil­dren Open in Las Ve­gas ear­lier this month. The 35-year-old Amer­i­can has brought his jug­gling act to South Korea this week for the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges, which starts Thurs­day on Jeju Is­land.

Win­ning a ma­jor ti­tle leads to ex­tra de­mands off the field for golfers, and Wood­land said find­ing the right bal­ance has been his big­gest chal­lenge as a new ma­jor cham­pion.

“I have a lot more de­mands and more spon­sor obli­ga­tions now that I need to deal with off the golf course. Out­side that, I have a big­ger fam­ily now,” Wood­land said at his pre-tour­na­ment press con­fer­ence at the Club at Nine Bridges on Tues­day.

“So it’s been man­ag­ing my time from my busi­ness side to my fam­ily to my golf side. It’s been the ad­just­ment for me that I’ve never had to deal with too much. The time off was huge for me. I needed that to shore things up. I am for­tu­nate to have sur­rounded my­self with some good peo­ple. I think right now I am in a pretty good spot.”

Wood­land was the run­ner-up to Brooks Koepka last sea­son af­ter a blis­ter­ing fi­nal round of nine-un­der 63. Both are among the long­est hit­ters on the tour, and Wood­land said hav­ing the length off the tee will be “a huge ad­van­tage” at the 7,241yard course.

Wood­land also noted that it all de­pends on how much or in which di­rec­tion the wind will blow on an is­land fa­mous for its un­pre­dictable gusts.

“The big­gest chal­lenge here is the weather. If the wind is blow­ing, the course be­comes ex­tremely tough,” he said. “The wind de­pend­ing, this golf course changes a lot. With the wind down, you can play a lit­tle more ag­gres­sive. Driv­ing the golf ball is at a pre­mium this week.”

In his sea­son de­but in Las Ve­gas ear­lier this month, Wood­land tied for 55th place. But he said he “played a lot bet­ter than I scored” and that he’s ex­cited about the state of his game.

“The big deal is to con­tinue to get bet­ter. Ex­pec­ta­tions, I need to har­ness them and not change them,” he said of fol­low­ing up on the most suc­cess­ful sea­son of his ca­reer. “It was a break­through sea­son for me and con­sis­tency was there as well. That’s im­por­tant. (I want to) con­tend more of­ten and hope­fully get more Ws.”

The CJ Cup is the only PGA Tour tour­na­ment held in South Korea each year. The no-cut tour­na­ment has a to­tal purse of $9.75 mil­lion.

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