Gary Woodland ready to be happy, healthy
Having already played 13 PGA Tour events this season, Gary Woodland was looking forward to a little getaway trip to the Bahamas with fellow pro Justin Thomas last week.
Leading up to this week’s Masters Tournament, Woodland — who had played three straight weeks and nine since January — needed a break.
“We were going to practice and relax,” Woodland said. “It was kind of: clear the mind before (the Masters). Sometimes you grind all week the week before and you’re burned out. We were trying to get away for a couple days and practice and shut our minds down for a little bit.”
Photos: Tuesday Masters Practice Round
Instead of easing his mind going into the Masters, Woodland might have added a little more stress to it. On the flight, Woodland’s back locked up to the point he “couldn’t walk off the plane.”
Almost immediately, he flew back to Florida for treatment.
“I was a little concerned there for a couple days because I couldn’t move,” Woodland said. “But I’ve had a lot of therapy and I’m back to the point now where I can move.”
He doesn’t expect the back issues to hinder him this week. Instead, he spent Friday working with swing coach Butch Harmon, getting in morning and afternoon workouts, and said he felt no discomfort.
He arrived in Augusta on Sunday to begin his Masters preparation. He’s paired with Tommy Fleetwood and Xander Schauffele, scheduled to tee off Thursday at 10:53 a.m.
“It’s one of those deals where getting old sucks,” Woodland said. “It was just a little tweak in the back. I’ll be all right.”
Woodland has dealt with injury during Masters Week, as well. Woodland was in the top 20 in 2012 when he went into the weekend at 1 under. But he injured his right wrist during the third round. Woodland finished the round, shooting 85, then withdrew before Sunday’s final round.
He has missed the cut in each of his last three Masters but is off to his best start since 2011 this season. Woodland goes to Augusta fifth in the FedEx Cup standings and No. 24 in the world rankings.
In 13 events, Woodland has six top-10 finishes — second only to Rory McIlroy on the tour this year — including two runner-up showings, one to Schauffele at the Tournament of Champions in January.
“In 2011, I was playing really well and I had results,” he said. “There’s been weeks this year where I haven’t played my best and still find a way to get into the top 10 and give myself a chance, and that’s what’s been more exciting about this year.”