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August 9, 2018

Gary Woodland

St. Louis, Missouri

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome back to the 100th PGA Championship. I am pleased to be joined by Gary Woodland, who carded a 6-under 64 today. He's your first round leader. He posted seven birdies, one bogey, and his 64 today matches his low round of the year. Well done, Gary.

Your round started a little inauspiciously, bogey on 1 and then six pars. But something kind of clicked at No. 8, didn't it.

GARY WOODLAND: It did. I probably pressed a little bit too much early. I've been hitting the golf ball beautifully coming into this week, close to home, I have a million friends and family out here, which is pretty cool, but so I was probably off pressing a little bit and I kind of settled in there really on 5 and outside of that I hit the golf ball beautifully. I made a big par putt there on 5, and it was the first time I've really seen a putt go in, in a while, which was nice. I made a lot of changes the last couple of weeks I seek the help of Phil Kenyon on Saturday of the Open Championship. I was hitting it so good and just got nothing out of it. He showed me some things that he saw that I was doing wrong in my stroke and it really took the last week and a half to, a lot of time on the putting green, and I've started to feel pretty comfortable this week and it was nice to see results today.

THE MODERATOR: So you're from Topeka, do you get any comfort being back in the Midwest, do you have any history in St. Louis, because you're not far from home, are you.

GARY WOODLAND: It's as close as I ever played to home, which is awesome. I have a million friends and family out here, which is really cool. We're kind of in enemy territory down here in Missouri, we're big Kansas people, but the fans were nice to me today as well and I really fed off of the energy that was out there surrounding the group, which was pretty cool.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. When you look at your record in the major championships, do you get angry and do you try to find an explanation?
GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, you I think a lot of it is pressing. I've set my schedule the last couple years to gear up for the Majors. This year I thought going in the golf courses suited me as well as any year lately and I just still got nothing. I thought Shinnecock would be good for me, I -- Carnoustie I had never been, but I hear it was a ball striking paradise. I played well over there, just had no, nothing great. This week is close to home as I've been. I snuck over here about a month ago and played and saw the golf course. Really enjoyed the layout. The turfs very similar to me, very familiar to me. We don't play on Zoysia very often. It's so hot here during the summer so the greens are soft and slow, you can be more aggressive, which suits my game. But definitely in the Majors it's frustrating. The record of mine I don't even have a top-10, I think 12 is the best I've ever finished, which is frustrating because I feel like where I am and where I should be is not results that I have had.

Q. Two things, there's a lot of people that are probably having not as easy a time as you did today, why do you think that is, what do you see as the difficulty that you were able to avoid today. And secondly, is there any chance you could give us a little better number than a million on how many people are here today with you?
GARY WOODLAND: A lot of people. The golf course is, it's a big golf course, I understand the shorter hitters can still hit long irons and they're stopping on the greens, but they're still hitting long irons in, still hitting hybrids in. The pins are a little more tucked than the last couple days. The golf course is very slow compared to last week. Akron was, the greens were lightning fast. This feels more like an Open Championship where the greens are a little bit slower. I think that that's probably puts into it. If you don't drive the ball in the fairway out here it is very tough. You can get some good lies, but you can get some nasty lies. I had one today on 5, I hit a great drive, thought I was in the fairway, I got up there and it just got in the rough, I couldn't get to the green. For me 145 yards I can't get it to the green is pretty nasty. So driving the ball in the fairway is a premium. And I've been driving the ball as well as I've had. That's what Butch and I focused so hard on this year. Led the strokes gained last week, I was No. 1. I mean, I feel like I'm driving the ball as well as I ever have. So driving the ball in the fairway for me was huge out here because the fairways are so soft that when you land in the fairway they're stopping, they're not going anywhere. So I can hit a lot of drivers, be aggressive and attack from the fairway.

Q. And the family component. How many maybe?
GARY WOODLAND: I mean, I would say 75 to a hundred people. I mean, easily there's more than that, but I would -- easily today I recognized 75 to a hundred people. People are yelling, I'm trying not to pay attention, trying not to look over there. But like I said, this is as close I'll ever play to home so it's nice to have the support.

Q. Can you talk a little bit more about the details about the changes in your putting?
GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, Phil, obviously he didn't want to give me too much information when I talked to him it was after Saturday of the Open Championship. So it was, he didn't want to give me too much. And I saw him again at Akron, but we didn't, I didn't see him until Wednesday. He told me on Saturday, he's like, hey, I need to see you earlier in the week, I can't give you too much information right before you go out and play. So we sat down earlier this week, he just showed me on video what he thought I was doing wrong. It was a significant change, but something I literally put a SuperStroke grip on and it fixed everything, to be honest with you. I haven't had to change -- I was trying to fight it the last couple weeks and trying to feel it, feel it, and we put the SuperStroke grip on on Tuesday and Phil said, don't change anything. I didn't have to think anymore, I literally grab the putter and go. And it helps me release the club different. I've been releasing with my hands and this helps me release it more down the line, which has been huge.

Q. Along those same lines, what motivated you to go to Phil and did you put that grip on this Tuesday?
GARY WOODLAND: I put it on this Tuesday. I used it in the past but it was this Tuesday that I put it on. Steiney's the one that made me go to Phil. I hit it so good on Friday and Saturday at the Open Championship and I think I shot over par. I was having 34, 35 putts every day and I think he was, Steiney and I were staying together that week and I think he had had enough of me complaining about it so he called Phil -- I was actually leaving the golf course and he told me to come back and I came back and talked with Phil for a little bit.

Q. Do you feel like there's a certain stretch of three or four holes in a row on this golf course where you have to score well otherwise you're maybe losing ground to the field?
GARY WOODLAND: Obviously the par-5s are big. There's just a couple holes you can let kill you. 1 and 2 are holes that seem pretty easy, but you got to drive the ball in the fairway. If you do, you can attack. 3's a really short par-3. So it's nice to get off to a good start, I didn't do that today, I hit it in the rough on those holes -- but if you do that you can attack those holes and make some birdies early in the day because 4, 5, 6, 7, are brutal holes. Long par-3 around water there, what is that, 6, I think. 5 is as hard a hole you're going to see. You got to drive the ball in the fairway there. So you got some really good holes there, 4, 5, 6 I would say are a big stretch because. Then you got a par-5 coming up on 8 or, yeah, 8, 7's a shorter hole. And then if you get through 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, those are holes you can definitely attack because then you got a big stretch coming in after that.

Q. You may be low 20s in the Ryder Cup standings. You got this and maybe a couple playoff events, did you come in here thinking there's still some room to get something done there?
GARY WOODLAND: I definitely think there's still room. That's been as frustrating as my Major record. I've been in the fitting I think for the last seven years for all the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup's fittings. I tried all the clothes on, I've seen them all and I've just never had a chance to make the team. Last year I think was probably as close as I made and that's frustrating. I got off to a great start this year, but I made a lot of changes because of my Major record. Pete Cowen and I have made a lot of changes in the short game, that was with Butch's recommendation. I just, the short game has really held me back. I hit the ball beautifully, but to contend week-in, week-out I have to get better in those areas. And after winning I think we focused so much on short game and I let some of the ball striking go. So it was an adjustment through the middle of summer that was very frustrating to me because I was playing so well. And to focus on weaknesses in the middle of a season is hard, but once I started getting more comfortable with the game, with the short game in the last month and a half, Pete's very happy with where I'm at, then Butch and I could really get back to the ball striking. And it's been coming together, the putting was the last thing, because I've been hitting the ball very well. Now when I get out of position I have the short game to give myself a chance. And to see putts go in was very, very cool.

Q. Can you elaborate what you might have heard from some Missouri fans out there and can you win them over if you stay in the hunt this weekend?
GARY WOODLAND: I hope I can win them over. I don't know. There's a lot of bad blood there. Between Kansas and Missouri. But there's a lot of chants going on, a lot of jokes going on making fun of Jayhawks and how, the noise they make compared to a Tiger. I mean, I heard a lot of stuff that actually made me laugh and chuckle, but it's all in fun. I'm just happy and excited to be as close to home as I'll ever be.

Q. Number 11 didn't look like a great birdie hole from where you were in one or two. What did you see in the putt and what were you trying to do off the tee there and what did making the putt do for you the rest of the day?
GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, the best shot in my bag is really that 2-iron, getting the ball in the fairway. And I really struggled with it today. I hit it three times and hit it in the rough all three times -- or missed the fairway all three times. That was in the bunker there. That's just another shot that I've been working on out of the bunker. So I was trying to get it past the hole and give myself a chance. It's nice to be able to watch the round the featured groups earlier in the day. I saw a lot of putts that Tiger and JT had hit. And got a little more familiar. Like the putt on the last hole, I thought I made. I saw JT had the exact same putt this morning. I thought I hit that in the center. But 11 I was just trying to get it past the hole because I knew even if I hit it over the green, chipping out of the Zoysia I had plenty of room to make par there. And then it's nice to get a putt on line and it goes in from that. I was trying to get it close and it was nice that it went in.

Q. You go out there in the afternoon, you know the greens aren't going to be as smooth as they were in the morning. We saw some guys kind of staring at marks in the greens this afternoon. So how much of it was attitude about it as much as this better stroke?
GARY WOODLAND: Absolutely, a lot of it. I hit a lot of putts in the first seven holes that I thought I made and just didn't go in. It gets frustrating. But then you just got to, for me, I'm just trying to hit solid putts because I feel like I'm not thinking about trying to make it right now, I'm trying to hit solid putts and if I get them on line obviously it's going to be a good thing. But I'm not too worried about results right now, I'm trying to get more of a focus on the process and give myself chances. I'm hitting it so well if I give myself the chances like I did today and good things will happen. I don't have to make every putt. And that's what I focused on with Pete Cowen and Butch and is I don't have to putt my best to win out here, if I have everything else clicking. When I do putt it well then really good things will happen.

Q. You mentioned you were pressing early. Were you expecting to be doing that coming into this tournament?
GARY WOODLAND: I just have been playing very well, I had a great week of preparation, I'm excited to be here. And so maybe trying to get off to a really good start early, knowing 1 and 2 if you get it in the fairway are birdie holes. And I just probably pressed a little bit too much. But I'll learn from that. It's not the first time I've done that. But I just took a step back on 3 and realized I've been hitting it so good, just take a second, take a deep breath and let's go. And we did that and hit the ball beautifully after the first two holes.

THE MODERATOR: You made 153 feet five inches of putts today. Is that a staggering number when you really think about it?

GARY WOODLAND: I mean, that's a lot. It's nice. Like I said, it's nice just to see the results. You work so hard and you want to see results to back up the work that you've done and today was just a step in the right direction.

THE MODERATOR: Okay, first round leader Gary Woodland thank you, sir.

GARY WOODLAND: Thanks, guys.

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