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June 28, 2011

Gary Woodland


NELSON SILVERIO: Welcome, Gary Woodland, to the interview room here at the AT&T National. Winner earlier this year at the Transitions Championship. Why don't you get us started talking about your year. You're coming into this week 9th in the FedExCup. Just kind of recap the year for us and maybe what you're looking forward to the rest of the year.
GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, it's been a good start. Obviously I had five top 10s, had a win. The main thing is I'm just playing more consistent. Every week has been getting better and better. Now after the win I've had time to take time off, take weeks off and work on parts of my game to I need to do better at. Working on some wedges, working on a little bit of putting. Trying to prepare for the majors now is a big deal.
NELSON SILVERIO: I think you read earlier you're working on your game, but you also had a chance to hang out with a couple professional baseball players this week. Is that right?
GARY WOODLAND: I did. I came up to Philadelphia Friday morning. My best friend plays for Oakland and they were in town, so I watched baseball Friday, Saturday, Sunday, hung out with the team, stayed with the team downtown and got away from golf a little bit, which was nice.

Q. Any regrets on your career choice?
GARY WOODLAND: I missed it. Watching baseball all weekend I missed it a little bit. It was great to get out. I miss being around teams, and obviously I played team sports my whole life. To be around the guys and hang out was definitely a nice change.

Q. I wanted to ask you about Gary's summer adventure. This is your first time here, first British Open, and are you going next week, as well?
GARY WOODLAND: I am. I'm going to play the Scottish next week.

Q. Have you ever played links golf?
GARY WOODLAND: Most links I've seen is probably Prairie Dunes in Kansas, which I guess is the most links we can get here in the United States. But I'm looking forward to getting over there. I grew up in the wind, I grew up in bad conditions playing in Kansas. Hopefully the conditions suit me pretty well, and I think we'll be hitting that 2-iron quite a bit the next couple weeks.

Q. Have you been to Britain?
GARY WOODLAND: No, never been to Europe. I've been west, I've been south, north and never east.

Q. How does the win change how you've scheduled the rest of the year and decisions you make? Does it ease the burden of hanging on to a card, all that stuff that goes with it?
GARY WOODLAND: The big deal, it allows me to take weeks off, play golf courses that suit me. You know, the big deal is I played so much a couple years ago, you're out here trying to make money, trying to keep your card, you never have time to realize what you're doing. You never have time to make adjustments.
I took three weeks off after Augusta, really attacked some parts of my game. I won't play more than three weeks in a row the rest of the year, so I feel healthy, I'm more rested, and coming in in a better mind frame.

Q. I know you've answered this question for every place you've been this year, but can you give us a snapshot of your road to this point from baseball and basketball to your decision to pursue a golf career?
GARY WOODLAND: Yeah. You know, I played three sports growing up my whole life. I played basketball, baseball and golf. Golf was probably third on the totem pole until I was 17. I played basketball until I was 16. Right after the season my dad told me I had to make a choice. I was a little burned out from baseball at the time so I decided to give it up. Just focused on basketball and golf, and decided to play -- decided to play basketball in college and went one year and realized I wasn't going to do it after school, so I made the change to golf and played four years at Kansas and worked all the way up to here.

Q. Was there ever a moment or a round or a shot or something when you started playing golf that you realized you could do this for a living, kind of a turning point?
GARY WOODLAND: No, I think the main deal was I was always pretty good at it and I didn't have to work at it. At the other sports I had to out-work everybody. Golf just came naturally to me. I always thought I had a future but never really had the results to show it, I guess, never got out of Kansas to prove myself. Deep down I always thought I could.

Q. Since you made the switch, what was the toughest moment as far as, gosh, I wish I had stuck with baseball, or was there one?
GARY WOODLAND: I mean, I think the main deal, it gets a little lonely out here. When I was hanging out with the guys this weekend, you can go to dinner, just be around the guys. This sport gets pretty lonely sometimes. I am a little behind in the golf aspect. I just don't know -- there's little things I need to learn here, shots when to hit, when not to hit. But from the competitive side, I think I'm ahead out here. But definitely in the golf I'm behind.

Q. (No microphone.)
GARY WOODLAND: No. I've gotten an offer from the Royals to go down and do that. I'm sure I'll get down there sometime and do that.

Q. Did you ever have scouts say -- did you talk to them way back when or anything about --
GARY WOODLAND: No. As I said, I was just doing everything. I knew I was pretty good, I just didn't know how good.

Q. This year you played in the Masters for the first time. What's it like to be out there at a major and play in it, especially now that you've reached a certain status here on the TOUR?
GARY WOODLAND: That's what I'm here for, the big events, the crowds, the electricity. It's the biggest stage we have. It's definitely exciting. Fortunately enough I played my way into the next two majors, as well, and hopefully I can keep moving up in the FedEx, keep moving up in the World Rankings and be competing in these majors for a long time.

Q. Your impression of the golf course, what's it going to take to win the tournament?
GARY WOODLAND: I haven't seen it. I'm going to go out and play nine holes, play the pro-am tomorrow. But I've heard nothing but good things. I've heard my length is going to be a big advantage here. I've heard it's hard, which I love. I heard it's not going to be a shootout, which I'm a big fan of. I'm looking forward to getting out there and seeing what it's like.

Q. (No microphone.)
GARY WOODLAND: I've just got to get better at everything. Nothing is where I want it. I'm driving the ball better, I'm putting the ball better. I've always been a pretty good ball striker, but everything has got to get better. If I want to do what Rory did a week or two ago, which was pretty impressive, I've got to get better everywhere.

Q. Talk about yesterday, the experience and what you shot and what you thought.
GARY WOODLAND: Pine Valley was amazing. Like I said, I've never been out there, never experienced that. The guys were great. We had a great time. I didn't play very well, but not many drivers out there for me, a lot of irons, a lot of target golf. But it's a special place, special place. The members were great. I played with Peter Brune from Titleist and we had fun. He played phenomenal. I didn't play very well. He carried me around that place. No, we had a good time, though.

Q. Is there a number?
GARY WOODLAND: I was a couple over par. We were playing best ball so I picked up a couple times. I was probably a couple over par.

Q. You're also in the World Golf Championship at Firestone. I presume you've never been there before?

Q. Is this kind of you're now playing all the courses you kind of dreamed of someday, the best of the best?
GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, I mean, like I said, that's what I'm here for. I am here for the big events. Obviously World Golf is the best players in the world. It's great because I can take weeks off and prepare for that. I can get ready for that golf course. I've seen it on TV. But like I said, any time I can play against the best players in the world on the biggest stage, I'm looking forward to it.

Q. You talked about early in your career it was tough to kind of chase a card and get a paycheck and things like that. I'm wondering what's the toughest part to kind of get to the next step in your career? What have you found the toughest thing to be?
GARY WOODLAND: Managing your time. I have a little bit more attention drawn towards me. Got to find out when to take time off, when to really hit it hard. Just traveling, everything is just bigger now. I think trying to manage my time has been the biggest adjustment for me the last couple months.

Q. You seem to be a very good putter. I saw you at the CVS Charity Classic. I wonder if Brad Faxon has given you any tips on putting.
GARY WOODLAND: Yeah, Faxon has been helping me out actually since the end of last year. We've practiced together. Every time he's out here I play a practice round with him. There's nobody as good as he is at putting. At the just phenomenal to see. His mental approach to it is second to none. I think that's really where he's helped me out is on the mental side of it.
We played together in the CVS deal, and every putt he misses it looks like it's going in. It's phenomenal to see.

Q. Since you got to see three baseball games over the weekend, just wondering what your opinion was of the Phillies?
GARY WOODLAND: They're pretty good. Obviously they have a power lineup, the pitching is awesome, probably the best rotation in baseball. Stadium was beautiful, sold-out crowds. Oakland is struggling right now and they're still selling out that stadium. It was a great week, and the weather was perfect. My buddy pitched well, so that's all that mattered.

Q. How did the relationship with Fax evolve?
GARY WOODLAND: We played a practice round at Greenbrier. We were on the range next to each other and decided to go out and play. He said if I ever wanted a tip or anything to ask him, and I said, let's go right now. He worked with me a little bit on the putting green the next week at Turning Stone, and I gave him a call this off-season and met up with him, worked with him for quite a while down in West Palm. Now we play a lot of practice rounds together.
Like I said, the mental side -- he didn't do much for my putting stroke. My putting stroke has always been pretty solid. But the mental side has been phenomenal for me, routine, how to practice, how to prepare, what to look for. It's pretty special.

Q. The first time you guys hit driver, did he say anything?
GARY WOODLAND: No, it was pretty funny. The first practice round we played together, I was struggling towards the end of last year a little bit, and I was hitting the ball beautifully. He came up to me on the 15th hole, and he's like, do you always hit it like this? Why haven't you won? What is going on? I think that's when we started working a little bit on the other stuff.
NELSON SILVERIO: Thanks, Gary, and good luck this week.

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