Gary Woodland is the best player on the PGA Tour.
Yeah, I’m sure you just said that. But maybe, just maybe, he is. OK. I’m getting ahead of myself here. But this guy has blasted out of nowhere to third on the current FedEx Cup point standings list. Third? Yep, you heard right.
I’ve got to say, the 26-year-old Woodland’s meteoric rise this winter was unforeseen by even the most ardent PGA Tour followers, and don’t let the talking heads on The Golf Channel or NBC fool you. OK, he did get some notice by starting the season by losing in a playoff at the Bob Hope Classic and then racked up a fifth at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and a sixth at The Honda Classic. But he fell back to a 58th at the Farmers Insurance Open and everyone expected the 6-foot, 1-inch, 200-pound former collegiate basketball-player-turned-golfer to fade back into the obscurity from whence he came.
But then he goes and plays like a seasoned veteran and wins the Transitions Championship at a real tough course (the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Golf and Spa in Florida) against a very good field and now he’s considered the real deal. I’m not going to argue the point, in fact, I think the kid is ready for even greater things in the near- and long-term.
I mean, this guy has a swing that looks so beautiful you could put him on a teaching video and tell people, “Here, that’s the way you swing a golf club.” The Kansas native, who claims one of his biggest thrills was playing hoops for Washburn University against Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse, only began taking the game serious about eight years ago. He transferred from Washburn to Kansas to pursue his golf career.
Woodland is a man’s man. The guy is a football fan, his favorite movie is “Gladiator,” his choice of food is steak, and his favorite athlete is boxer Floyd Mayweather. Isn’t that refreshing stuff in this day or girlie men and metrosexuals?
What impressed me most about Woodland winning at The Transtions was the way he did it. You might expect a guy who has never won before to tighten up down the stretch. But instead he stripes a five-iron onto the flag at 17 and makes the birdie putt to tie Webb Simpson for the lead, and then rips a two-iron (that’s right, a two-iron) down the middle of the fairway on 18 on the way to making a par (with an 11-foot putt), while Simpson winds up making bogey on 18. There didn’t seem to be any doubt in Woodland’s mind, no hesitation on either swing, which I said before is a thing of beauty.
So, while we wait for Tiger to become Tiger again, wonder where Phil has gone and hope that one or two of the young kids like Rory McIlroy or Rickie Fowler can become the fresh-faced hero golf wants and needs, this guy Gary Woodland comes along.
I’m pumped to see what he can do leading up to and into Augusta and if he can sustain his level of play. With a swing like that, I’m thinking this is just the start for the former tour rabbit.