Woodland juggling golf with family, business
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.