The last four months have been long for Gary Woodland – and not in the way most use that word to describe the Kansas native.
It began in April when he ruptured a cyst in his wrist at the Masters, dropping to his knees at the par-5 eighth. He apparently caused the injury working too hard to implement swing changes with Butch Harmon. At one point, he went a month without hitting a single ball.
On Thursday at the PGA Championship, however, Woodland finally felt healthy and showed off his new game. His opening 5-under 67 left him a shot off the lead of Carl Pettersson.
“Now Butch and I can work,” he said. “It’s just a process obviously making changes, but when you’re not able to do it, it’s tough. The last couple weeks Butch and I, we’ve worked as hard as I’ve probably worked in my life, and it’s nice to be able to do that being healthy.”
After injections to reduce inflammation at the Open Championship, the pain has subsided. Now Woodland can focus on the pain of changing his game, knowing the payoff could be big. It could even come as soon as this week.
“I finished top 30 in all four majors last year, but Butch said I didn’t contend enough and really it came down to not driving the ball straight enough,” he said. “So we’ve worked hard on a couple of changes in the swing to drive it straighter. Today it paid off. I drove the ball as best I’ve driven it all year, and when I drive it like that I’m playing a game that most guys can’t play out here.”