Woodland returns as wounded US Open champion


MAMARONECK, New York: Gary Woodland waited 15 months to return to the US Open as defending champion and it turned into a miserable week before he even arrived.

In this June 16, 2019, file photo, Gary Woodland chips off the 17th green during the final round of the US Open
Championship golf tournament, in Pebble Beach, Calif. Woodland’s lob wedge was among the defining shots of the year. AP PHOTO

Woodland shot another 74 on Friday (Saturday in Manila) and appeared certain to miss the cut. What bothered him more than his score was a tear in his left labrum that he has been coping with the last six weeks.

“I’ve got a lot of pain in there, and I’ve been fighting through it,” Woodland said. “But it gets to a point where you’re playing against the best players in the world. You just can’t play with pain. I’ve played with pain my whole life, but it’s getting a little tough.”

Woodland says he has dealt with labrum issues in his left hip for a long time and has treated it with injections. But it flared up again, and he suspects the Covid-19 pandemic that shut down golf for three months played a role. When golf returned, he played seven out of nine weeks. That’s a lot of golf for him.

“They didn’t want me to play Chicago. They told me to take that off,” Woodland said.

Instead, he played the BMW Championship, hopeful of moving up nine spots in the FedEx Cup and reaching the Tour Championship. “I thought I could play my way into East Lake, but didn’t get that done,” he said. He failed to advance, and two weeks off were not enough.

Thursday was the first time he played 18 holes since the final round at Olympia Fields three weeks ago.

“My coaches didn’t want me to play today,” Woodland said. “But this meant a lot to me. My game was in a good spot. It would have been different if I wasn’t playing well. But physically, I could do it. And it’s frustrating.”

Woodland said he could see a specialist on Monday and assess from there.

“I’ve got to get healthy,” he said. “Maybe I’ll call Brooks [Koepka]. He’s dealing with the same [stuff]. Maybe we can fix it together.”



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