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January 4, 2019

Gary Woodland

Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii

JACK RYAN: We'll get started here with Gary Woodland, our 36-hole leader at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Gary, it's been a seemingly pretty easy start for you, got 12-under, three-shot lead. What's been the key for you.

GARY WOODLAND: I played really good actually tee to green. It's been nice. I have driven the golf ball very well, controlled. The wind today I thought was a little tougher than yesterday, but I've controlled the ball great into the greens. I think I hit 16 greens today which was nice. Big deal just staying patient on the greens. It's very tough putting with the crosswinds and didn't see anything go in early, but nice to see the chip go in on 11 and kind of got me going, propelled me for the rest of the round.

JACK RYAN: Questions?

Q. Guys come here having taken time off, not really prepared, guys come here and think well, this is a pretty good place to come. There is only 35, 36 guys or whatever it is. What was your mindset coming into this and what did you do to get prepared?
GARY WOODLAND: I've had that mindset a couple times that I've been here, not prepared, excited to be here, taken some time off before here the last two times I was here. But this time I've been playing a lot. I have only had three weeks off coming into this week. I played Tiger's event and then played Shark Shoot-out, so I've played a lot. I didn't have, I think the last three weeks I had off was my only three-week break of the year, so it's been go, go, go. But I did have a bunch of two-week breaks in the middle of summer, so I felt rested as, more rested than I have at the end of the year in my career, to be honest with you. So I wanted to come out and be aggressive. Obviously it's nice to be here, but I have a little different mindset this week, playing a little more aggressive, trying to contend, and trying to win instead of just enjoying the views out here, which I've done in the past.

Q. Did you hit the ball any differently on the front nine?
GARY WOODLAND: I mean I hit it closer on the back nine. I thought it played tougher today. I hit one close shot there on 3, hit it in there stiff, and I didn't miss a green on the front, and I had two bogeys, two 3-putts. The only other birdie was a 2-putt birdie there on 5 and I hit it in there close. I had a good chance for eagle. Missed a short one there on 9 for birdie which was frustrating but then I kind of regrouped. I think the difference in my putting lately allowed me to do that. Because in the past I didn't make anything on the front I would be very frustrated. I was able to regroup and tell myself everything's been really good. Let's just stay patient, and I hit it great on the back, hit it a lot closer and give me a left opportunities.

Q. Your other two times here, did you have an entourage of 13?
GARY WOODLAND: Not 13 because everybody keeps having kids, so it continues to grow. But my sister and her kids have came over every time, so it's -- obviously I have a kid now and we got some help with us, so it just continues to grow. Hopefully not too many more though in the future.

Q. With the wind did you have any issues with the ball maybe oscillating a little bit?
GARY WOODLAND: A little bit more today than yesterday. Especially on the front nine. There was a couple times where I was a little nervous about it moving. But there's just a lot of crosswinds. That's the tough, you get a 5, 6-footer and the wind's blowing off the left, I just didn't adjust enough on the front playing for the wind. We hit a lot of good putts that the wind just took over and I missed. When you hit your lines and they don't go in it's frustrating. So the wind definitely I thought played a bigger factor today than it did yesterday.

Q. The Wilson deal. How long that had been in the works, how much, what are you playing, how much you've been testing, that kind of stuff?
GARY WOODLAND: I started testing after Asia. So before Vegas I did a little bit of testing, and then I played Vegas, Mexico, and then I did a lot of testing after Mexico. And the irons, I had a bunch of stuff sent in, a bunch of drivers, a bunch of irons, and I just fell in love with the irons. And that was the big deal, it was nice -- we didn't do anything before Tiger's event. I wanted to play them in competition. And then I end up playing them the two weeks in a row and loved them and then the deal came together pretty quickly from there.

Q. When did you actually sign it?
GARY WOODLAND: Last -- well, the deal's been done two days ago.

Q. Nothing last year? A hat?
GARY WOODLAND: No. I had a driver deal the last three years with TaylorMade, but I haven't had any other club deal, no ball deal, which was nice. I've been with Under Armour, was with them for a long time, and when that contract ended it was, kind of freed me up to do whatever I wanted.

Q. When was the last time you changed clubs and was there any --
GARY WOODLAND: I played those same irons for three years, so I haven't changed irons in a long time. I've played -- the last couple years with TaylorMade I've played their new driver every year. So just not switching very much, which is nice. I did switch the golf ball, last year was the first time I played Bridgestone golf ball, and I've played it since over a year now, which it's been great. But it wasn't that much of an adjustment. The irons, I thought playability-wise they don't move as much as maybe the Titleist ones. I'm hitting it a lot straighter, so it took me a little bit to aim. But they come out of the window I look every time, so they have been tremendous.

Q. Did you try a lot of different clubs or was Wilson --
GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, I tried, with Wilson it was just the one set. This is the first ones they sent, so that was easy.

Q. Different manufacturers, I mean?
GARY WOODLAND: I did. I tried almost four different manufacturers and these were by far the best I liked.

Q. What driver are you hitting?
GARY WOODLAND: I'm hitting the Ping driver right now. I've done a lot of testing with that, had a bunch of drivers sent in. The Wilson driver's been great distance-wise. It's equally as distance, but I'm just hitting this one really straight right now, so that's been very nice for me. Tony Finau is the one that's got me. He was bragging about it and started hitting it and it's been very straight.

Q. Of the five birdies in a row, which one were you most pleased with, post 11, which was a nice one --

Q. And were you pissed about 16?
GARY WOODLAND: I was frustrated with 16 because I knew I had 18 coming up and I thought I would try to birdie the last eight would have been nice. But the birdie on 12 was big because I hit a great drive. That's one, if I keep it over that bunker that it went in, I can -- D.J. almost made a hole-in-one there, I can get there. We thought when I hit it, it was a perfect line. To get up there and it was in that bunker it was frustrating I was close to the lip, I think the rain helped me a little bit, because that bunker was a little firmer than it usually is and I was able to hit -- I was trying to get it on the green and to hit it in there close was definitely a bonus on 12.

Q. Talk about maybe a little bit different mindset. Were you not aggressive the previous times you were here?
GARY WOODLAND: I don't know if I was aggressive enough because I didn't drive it well enough. I drive -- I'm a completely different player now. I always hit my irons pretty good, but there's some holes where I just wasn't comfortable on the tee box, so I think I played a little more conservative. Now I feel like I can hit driver on any hole, I think I did hit driver on every par-4 besides maybe 2 or maybe 3. But I am playing a lot more aggressive now just because I'm confident in what I was doing and that was different from before for sure.

Q. Do you remember last year at the Sony Open where you were close to missing the cut and then you made like eight, nine birdies in a row on the back nine. Was that kind of a similar run on the back nine today or am I testing your memory a little bit?
GARY WOODLAND: I don't remember what I did there, I remember making a bunch -- I remember playing well, I really enjoy Waialae, I've had some success there the last four years. But that's a golf course there you can definitely get going. Here it's a little more difficult, the wind's blowing a lot more, the greens are massive but you can get on the wrong side of some of these pins pretty quickly. So Waialae is a little easier to roll off six, seven, eight in a row. This one's a little different.

Q. Curious if your mindset is also different here in terms of what you're doing away from the golf course. Are you maybe more focused on golf this week than you have been in the past?
GARY WOODLAND: No doubt. This place can definitely take it away. You have the views, Hawaii, everything's phenomenal. I'm in a pretty good spot off the golf course. Obviously the kid with the wife and it's been documented, we have dealt with a lot, but we're in a very good spot right now. Nice to have my family here. The little guy just puts everything in perspective. You go back he doesn't care what I did today he just wants to play. So that's definitely a lot easier than dwelling on good shots and bad shots the whole time.

Q. Three-shot lead at the midway point, does the mindset change at all going into the weekend?
GARY WOODLAND: No. You would like to build on that, continue to do what I've been doing, driving the golf ball great, controlling it into the greens, and then you got to be aggressive, you got to try to find a way to get it below the holes and be aggressive on these greens. It's supposed to blow again tomorrow so the game plan should be the same tomorrow as it was today.

Q. There was a graphic before you teed off today about how your sand percentage is not as good as it was a year ago, which doesn't really matter to us, but the driving accuracy was the big thing, how you've changed over a year. A big difference in your driving accuracy. Could you say, could you talk about how you got to that point, what you did, and then secondly, why did you lay up on 14?
GARY WOODLAND: Easy. On 14 it was, the wind's -- I like to cut the ball and the wind was just too much off the left. That's one I actually I have hit driver in the past and blown it out of bound over there. So I hit it in there close yesterday it's a 4-iron, lob wedge for me, so it's one those if the wind was blowing the other way I would hit driver, but with that my miss is going to be too far right. So with the wind blowing that hard it just didn't set up well. The driver was the one thing Butch and I sat down last year, going into the 2018 season was that's the one thing we wanted to change, he wanted me to be more aggressive off the tee, I needed to be able to hit the golf ball in the fairway with the driver, so that's what I focused more on than anything in the last year and we saw it, the last half of the season I started to drive the ball really, really well. The bunker play, it's funny because two years ago I was 10th on TOUR and last year it just, Pete Cowen and I made a bunch of changes with it, it took me a little bit while to get comfortable. I feel more comfortable over any bunker shot now than I ever have in my life, I just, maybe I haven't made the putts or whatever, but I definitely think I'm hitting it closer and I don't have a problem with any shot now in the bunker than I just haven't got it up-and-down as much as I would like, but I definitely feel more confident now out of there than I ever have.

Q. Isn't that as much a putting stat?
GARY WOODLAND: I agree, it is. And it also is where you're at in the bunker, is it plugged, is it up against the lip. Some of that is ball striking too. I'm hitting it well enough so I'm playing a little bit more aggressive into the greens and Pete wants me to do that, he wants me to be more aggressive into the greens because I can hit a lot more shots out of the bunkers and short sides and blah, blah, blah. But it's one of those deals where I feel confident I just haven't got it up-and-down as much as I'd like. I think the short game stats all in all weren't as good as I would like them to be, but I feel confident, I'm not worried about any shot that I have, which I have been in the past.

Q. Couple things. If this was pre-August a year ago, you started out the way you did on the front nine, would there be any part of you that was just kind of resigned to having just one of those days on the greens.
GARY WOODLAND: Definitely, no doubt about it. That's been the biggest change. Obviously we have done a lot of mechanical stuff but the confidence is what really propelled me to have a good round today, because in the past it would have been frustrating, just all day I would have been complaining about it. But really just on the back nine we just said let's make an adjustment, let's play a little bit more for the wind and let's keep doing what we're doing and that's the difference.

Q. And what did you do during your three weeks off from tournaments?
GARY WOODLAND: I practiced.

Q. Practiced the whole time?
GARY WOODLAND: Yeah. I don't take lot of time off. I did take five or six days off, we went on vacation, Gabby and I did, down in the Dominican, just to kind of get away.

Q. So you didn't take your clubs?
GARY WOODLAND: I did and I played the last two days down there, but.


I got -- I had a couple days off. But it was, like I said, I knew I only had three weeks, I knew I wanted to be prepared coming in. The bulk of the season is so much earlier now I didn't want to take any time off, I didn't want to rest any, I wanted to get ready for that and I'll pick my spots now where I take time off to get ready for THE PLAYERS in March and then obviously the four majors start right away, so I'll be ready to go.

Q. What's the best thing you got for Christmas?
GARY WOODLAND: I'm more of a giver now than anything.

Q. You always were.
GARY WOODLAND: I don't receive too many gifts anymore. Obviously it's nice to bring my whole family -- for Christmas we brought everybody over here, so it's nice to have my family over here.

Q. Do you enjoy playing golf when you're not playing professionally?
GARY WOODLAND: The problem is all my friends want to play golf so when I -- we live in South Florida where it's warm all the time. So I feel like, you're sitting at home, you feel like somebody's getting better, it's hard for me just to sit there. So if I need to take off during the winter I need to go home to Kansas and watch basketball, because you can't get outside there. But all my friends, a lot of friends in other sports that when they're off season's during the winter they want to come down and play golf, so that's just seems to be what I do on my off time.

JACK RYAN: Thank you always for the time, Gary and best of luck.


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