“It’s never over.”
Gary Woodland whispered these words of advice to himself throughout Sunday’s US Open Championship match in Pebble Beach, California. He could ease up, or he could go for the kill.
Those wise words worked.
Woodland secured his first major championship in 31 career matches at a stellar 13-under at the end of the weekend. After the win, he credited his mindset and peers for his success.
“You know, I’ve worked hard my whole life,” he said. “I’ve been surrounded by amazing people. I always just wanted to be successful. I fell in love with golf, and it’s transcended to today.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 17, 2019
Not Always a Golfer
The current US Open champion and former Kansas Jayhawk wanted to be successful. However, his first crack at athletic prominence did not come in the form of a club and tee. He started off as a Division II basketball player.
“I went to school to Washburn to play basketball,” he said. “And I always believed if basketball didn’t work out, I could fall back on golf.”
Woodland’s first-career game came against the Kansas Jayhawks. He said he knew basketball wasn’t for him after he faced the No. 1 team in Division I basketball. After that, he transferred to Kansas to play golf for the university.
The two-sport athlete fell back on golf and won a major championship. He believes he made the right move. After Sunday, who could disagree with him?
After he became the 119th US Open champion, his alma mater congratulated his accomplishment on Twitter.
The former basketball player didn’t want to start shooting layups. He wanted to be aggressive.
“I was even thinking about laying it up there a little bit,” he said.
Then, his caddy became a mentor.
“My caddy and I talked about it,” he said. “It had been pretty easy to lay up there…I’ll give him all the credit; he’s the one that told me to be aggressive.”
After that, Woodland stormed ahead to take a commanding lead late into the contest. He approached the green of the 18th hole with a chance to birdie and close it out.
The finish was intense.
After whispering words of encouragement and three days of being aggressive, Woodland faced one final shot: a 30-foot put on the 18th green.
He pushed the put from the left side of the green to the right. A few seconds later, the quiet crowd erupted.
— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) June 17, 2019
Woodland’s aggressive play left him with a comfortable cushion on his last shot.
With three puts to spare, all he needed was one.