Gary Woodland put on a historic performance at the 119th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in winning his first major championship in beyond impressive fashion.
Gary’s been through a lot with him and his wife losing one of their twins 18 months ago when they were expecting and the twins were born prematurely. They lost a daughter during childbirthwhich was devastating, but had a son. Their son is healthy now which is awesome, but the loss of their daughter is still a difficult chapter in their lives. They are expecting twin daughters in August and while the loss of his daughter will always be remembered sadly, Gary Woodland has won the United States Open for her and his present and upcoming, expanding family. It’s an amazing story.
There’s also another powerful story in the great Woodland’s life. And that is Amy Bockerstette.
Gary met Amy, who has Down’s Syndrome, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and they played together. They formed a bond that will last forever. Amy had a 16 foot putt on the 18th which she sank. It was a powerful., moving moment. She and Woodland embraced emotionally. She’s special and so is Gary Woodland.
Gary shot 13 under par to defeat the great Brooks Koepka, who was gunning for his 5th major championship in 9 attempts, an incredible feat, at the Open and played superb golf as well. Brooks finished -10. Brooks was down 2 shots on 18 and crushed his drive. He had 237 yards in on the par 5 for his second shot. Brooks said afterwards to Joel Klatt of FOX that he was between a 3 iron and a 4 iron. He knew he couldn’t get the 4 iron there, so he pulled out his 3 iron and attempted to hit it high and land it soft. He hit it perfectly, but the ball landed on the green and rolled to the back into the rough. From there, Koepka could not get up and down for birdie and Woodland still had a 2 shot lead.
Right before that on 17, Woodland faced a long what looked like putt on the difficult par 3 17th, that was over fringe and rough on the large, kidney shaped 17th green. He elected to pull out his 64 degree wedge and chip it over the rough. It was about a 90 foot chip. He executed the shot perfectly with the ball rolling 2 feet from the hole. It was a magical shot, one of many Woodland executed throughout the Open. Woodland rolled it in for par, and for good measure, he birdied 18 from 20 feet. There was the chip in par Saturday on the par 4 13th , that was historically good. There was the phenomenal 3 wood on Sunday on the par 5 14th, where Woodland had 257 to clear the trap. Woodland was going to be aggressive, he was there to win, and cleared the trap in front of the green and the landed the ball 25 feet for eagle and 2 putted for birdie to give himself a then 2 shot lead. Just shot after shot, key putt after key putt, the great 35 year old from Topeka, Kansas by way of the Washburn University (Topeka) and the University of Kansas was not going to be denied.
Gary Woodland is now a major champion on quite possibly golf’s biggest stage. And he did it for Amy, he did it for his wife, Gabby. He did it for his deceased daughter, his 18 month old son and his new twin daughters coming in August.
Not a more deserving guy than the great Gary Woodland. The FOX broadcast of the Open was flawless. Joe, Paul, Brad and crew were phenomenal. FOX has now got coverage of the U.S. Open down to a science. The uninterrupted coverage in the final hour and really a lot of uninterrupted coverage throughout the Open was spectacular. Congratulations to FOX Sports and Joe Buck, Paul Azinger, Brad Faxon and all the FOX golf commentating team on their superb work on the 199th U.S. Open. They have the contract through 2026 and I’m very much looking forward to their broadcast of the 120th Open from famed Winged Foot in New York next year .
Gary Woodland is a champion and there should be more majors to come for the talented, high character gentleman from Kansas. He earned every bit of the 119th U.S. Open championship. He left no doubts on the course that he was the best player in the world at the Open. And there was so much more to the Gary Woodland story than just winning this epic major. He’s a happy guy right now and I can’t think of anyone more deserving than Gary Woodland.