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February 6, 2018

Gary Woodland

Pebble Beach, California

DOUG MILNE: We would like to welcome Gary Woodland to the interview room here at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am coming off a win last week in the Waste Management Phoenix Open. With the win you move inside the top-5 in the FedExCup standings. No. 5, No. 26 in the world.

Obviously one word to describe last week would be emotional. We were there and you kind of went through the gamut of everything. And without having you get too much back into it, just some thoughts on capturing the third career PGA TOUR win and how that translates into being here this week.

GARY WOODLAND: Thank you. It was definitely an emotional week. Obviously it had been awhile, five years really since the last time I won. I had been in contention a lot in the last five years and had a lot of chances, just haven't put four rounds together. Coming off two solid weeks at Sony Open, finished 7th, finished 12th at Torrey Pines. But kind of same deal, just didn't put four rounds together. Butch called me before the first round on Thursday and said, let's forget about the results, let's forget about everything else, let's put four rounds together and see where that adds up at the end of the week. I think that put me at ease Saturday night. I think it put me at ease all day on Sunday. I wasn't trying to shoot a number, I wasn't trying to do anything, I was just trying to play my fourth good round of the week. Obviously I would have liked to have finished it in regulation. I had a chance there on 18, executed shots perfectly and just didn't hit a good putt. It was nice to get the win in the playoff. I hadn't won in a playoff out here either, I was 0-2 in that. So it was nice to kind of knock that burden down to kind of kill two birds with one stone. Winning in -- first in five years and winning in a playoff. But seeing my family when I got done was definitely one of the most emotional parts of my life. My wife and I talked about it later, that this was definitely her favorite win, being there to share it with my son and everything we batted the last year was pretty cool.

DOUG MILNE: Now you have been working with Cowen and I heard you back on the phone a few minutes ago and two of the words you used were creative and innovative and when to play certain shots and strategies. How much did that come into play last week?

GARY WOODLAND: Huge. The chip shot I hit on 17 I think won me the golf tournament. It's a shot that I had a lot of green to work with, a shot that I would have definitely left short in the past, or knowing if I hit it too long it goes in the water, knowing I need to make birdie. That's the shot Pete, that was the first shot Pete and I worked on this off season. Butch was the one that had me reach out to Pete. We knew we needed to get better at the short game, we knew we needed to attack my weaknesses to be able to compete, to be able to contend out here week-in, week-out. So it was a great adjustment, it was a great time working with Pete, it was nice to go back with Butch and kind of work on the things that Pete and I were doing to make it my own and hone in everything we did because there was a lot of information. But it's just, the start too, we have so much more to do. I'm excited to see Pete in two week, he'll be at Honda. It will be nice to continue to work with him and improve.

DOUG MILNE: My final question before we open it is here at Pebble Beach this week kind of mixed results. You missed your first two cuts and then finished in the top-5 most recently last year. Some thoughts on being back here as the TOUR's most recent winner.

GARY WOODLAND: You can not love this place. This place is unbelievable. Probably the most scenic golf course we play all year. Maybe the most scenic golf course in America. So there's obviously a lot of history, a lot of tradition here. I was 0-3 because I missed the cut at the U.S. Open as well in 2010. So last year coming back and finally putting in a good week and playing well, finishing fifth, it's nice to come back, especially with the momentum I had last week and hopefully have another really good week.

DOUG MILNE: Open it up for questions, please.

Q. How does the win change your goals for the rest of the year, and now where you are talk about maybe Ryder Cup?
GARY WOODLAND: Yeah. Congrats to your Eagles, by the way. Really it doesn't change anything for me because when I won in 2011 I wasn't in the Majors yet. I wasn't -- I won in Tampa three weeks before Augusta to get into Augusta so my schedule changed drastically then. Now I'm already in everything. The schedule won't change at all. I have a lot to do before I can contend for a Ryder Cup. I have a lot more to improve. We have -- Pete and I have a lot to do with the short game. Butch and I have the golf swing where we want it but we still have things to improve with. We have to -- our whole goal is to eliminate the left side of the golf course with the driver so I can be more aggressive. You look at guys like Dustin Johnson, he drives it so good. He hits it so well. He's got so much confidence with the driver. I'm trying to get to that point and it's coming. I'm starting to drive the ball as well as I ever have, I'm hitting more drivers. I hit more drivers last week than I ever have at that golf course. And that's a tribute to the work Butch and I have done. So I have a lot to do, but if I do that, if I continue to improve with the short game, continue to improve with the driver, I think the Ryder Cup's a no-brainer.

Q. Can you talk about the similarities and differences among the three courses. Is there any kind of different strategy for each one or is there a lot of similarities that you can carry over through the three days?
GARY WOODLAND: I think that out here at Pebble is a golf course I can be aggressive at. Monterey, you really got to attack the par-5s. Spyglass, I think typically is one of the harder courses, but definitely you -- Phil shot 60 here one year, I think. They're definitely golf courses you can attack. A lot of it depends on the weather and when you're playing. I played Monterey, I was first off last year at Monterey, and it was one of the hardest days we had ever played. The wind was blowing, the rain was coming down, it was miserable. But the weather looks great this week, so I think -- I haven't been out yet, I'm going to go out this afternoon, but I would imagine you're going to have to make some birdies this week. A lot of this week's mental too. You're playing with amateurs, they're long rounds, it's a mental grind. So I think you have to be prepared for that and be mentally prepared for it. But from a physical standpoint I think you play aggressive at Pebble. You got four par-5s, which is nice. Any time you have that there's definitely a chance for birdies and eagles.

Q. I was going to ask you about playing with the amateurs. I think last year you played with Kelly. Are you planning to play with her again this year?

Q. What do you want out of your amateur? I mean what would you like to -- what facilitates something that would be a successful week for you?
GARY WOODLAND: Really just to have fun. I embrace that more now than I did my first couple years out here. It's nice knowing who I'm playing with. The first couple years I was just paired with somebody. Last year, obviously, Kelly and I, I was paired with her before, I knew I was playing with her, and I know I'm playing with her again this year, so. We had a good time last year, we'll have a great time this year. I think that's the big deal, is somebody -- you're going to be out there a long time, so somebody you can talk to and have a good week with is a good deal.

Q. How do you switch that mentality, especially coming from winning last week where it was, it's a different kind of grind. So how do you switch that mentality from me against pros in threesomes and then usually twosomes to five hour and 45 minute, almost six hour rounds with amateurs? Like you said, when you first started coming here, you weren't successful. So how do you make that mind switch?
GARY WOODLAND: A lot of that is experience. I was a rookie in 2009, so this is my 10th year out here. I've been through that. When I won in 2011 I was out practicing the next day, I was out -- I was excited to be out there grinding. I took yesterday off, not from a physical standpoint but from a mental standpoint. I wanted to decompress, I wanted to embrace -- you don't win out here every week, it's obviously been five years for me, so I wanted to enjoy that. But now it's time to get back to work. It's time to move on. Nobody cares this week, I can guarantee you, that I'm playing, that I won last week. So it's time for me to flip that switch and get physically prepared the next two days. Then the mental part is being rested and knowing what you're going to expect, knowing that you're going to have a long round, so you need to be able to turn the switch on and off and that's the big deal, not try to stay engaged out there for six hours, to be able to relax for a little bit and then turn it back on when you need to.

Q. When you won in Reno/Tahoe, your last win, how much harder is it to win or is it harder to win now than it was five years ago?
GARY WOODLAND: Definitely I think it's harder. It seems like every week you have more and more guys that are able to win. And then you have guys like Justin and Jordan and Dustin that seem like they win five times a year. So you're battling, it seems to me, more guys every week. Seems more guys are younger guys, I feel like an old guy out here now. So many more young guys out here that are coming out ready to win. Before you were kind of out here you were trying to keep your card, these guys are coming out ready to win. I just had breakfast with Austin Cook, the guy is talking about winning again. He just won a couple weeks ago. Patton Kizzire has won twice this year. So, so many younger guys that aren't household names are coming out winning week-in and week-out, so it's definitely a grind for guys that have been out here awhile to get over that hump. It's obviously not easy to win every week out here.

Q. The other thing is you're 26th in the world, I think that were you 24th in 2015 for a week. So this is actually your second best World Ranking. Do you feel like you're 26 in the world?
GARY WOODLAND: I felt like -- I mean, I don't know what 26 feels like, I guess -- but I feel like I'm a top player. I do. I feel my game is more complete than it's ever been. I've kind of hovered right around 40 to 50 for the last year and a half. Just haven't got over that hump. And that was my first conversation I had with Pete is, I'm tired of being where I'm at. I'm tired of being here. I feel like I'm a lot better than I'm showing. I feel a lot better than my results. This world's based on results, unfortunately, that's what it all comes down to, nobody cares what happens, you just got to prove it to them, you got to show it to them, and I just haven't done that. So it was nice to validate that last week but we have a long way to go and 26 is definitely not where I want to be.

Q. With Pete, is what you learned from him more what he says to you or what he shows you?
GARY WOODLAND: Both. Pete's hard, there's no sugar coating. That's a lot like Butch. He definitely, if I'm not getting it right away, he'll definitely get into me and tell me I'm not out here wasting people's time, it's time to work. He said, you're going to be as good as you want to be. I'll give you the tools, it's up to you to improve on that. So it's a lot mental, I would say, but the physical part was the easy part for me, it's more of continuing to improve, continuing to get better and never settle.

Q. You mentioned D.J. earlier. He obviously has a very good track record out here. Do you see this tournament as kind of a bomber's tournament or because of the other winners that really haven't been that long is it anybody's game?
GARY WOODLAND: Conditions I think set up a lot for that. I know D.J. won a lot early here, especially when it was soft. I think he won a couple of them it was 54 holes. We had a lot of rain those years that play, hitting it long and high is a huge advantage. If it gets firm, that will change things a little bit. I haven't been out yet, I don't believe they have had a ton of rain up here lately, but conditions set up a lot for that. But any time I think that you talk about golf courses and length or short hitters, any time you can hit it long, if you hit it straight, I think it's a huge advantage. D.J. obviously can play well any golf course how he drives it and that's what I'm trying to get to.

Q. As you said that, so what is it with your game that, I mean, outside of the fact you're trying to take one side of the fairway out and all that other stuff, what is it with your game that you think that if you could figure out or ad to your arsenal would make another potential leap up, especially getting yourself ready for Majors and stuff like that?
GARY WOODLAND: I think the short game is the biggest deal. The ball striking's always been there, I think statistically I've been pretty good since I've been out here with iron play. I think the driver is coming in, I put a new driver in play two weeks ago, an M3, put a smaller head -- and I always played the 460, a big head out here -- I put a smaller head in. I don't know if that's mentally allows me to focus better but I've driven the golf ball as well as I have the last two weeks with the driver. But the short game is a huge deal for me because it allows me to play more aggressive and play more to my strengths. I don't have to play as conservative into the greens, I can play more aggressive, knowing I have a chance to get the ball up-and-down. When I get in trouble, I don't have to hit a hero shot, I know I can punch out and rely on my short game to save me. That was Pete's goal when I first started working with him was for my short game to allow me to win, I don't have to putt it great. I think that that's a huge deal for me to not have to put too much pressure on my putting, even though the putting is coming and I've improved this year, it's been, statistically, as good as it's ever been, I don't have to rely on that to win. I can rely on my ball striking and my short game to get me over that hump.

Q. Are there many guys that don't play a 460?
GARY WOODLAND: I think that's the norm out here now, the bigger head. I don't know if TaylorMade has many guys playing the one I'm playing. It was just -- the 460 head I played in Sony and I played great with it, I liked it, and then they just had the 440. I was like, let me try the smaller head. And I have a tendency to have a lot of mishits, hit a lot of balls on the toe, with the better head. For some reason, the last couple weeks, the smaller head, I don't know if I'm focusing more on trying to hit it center or what, but I've hit the ball out of the center of the face which has allowed me to drive the ball consistently more better.

Q. Visually is it different?
GARY WOODLAND: You can definitely tell the size. I played the 460 for so long, it's like looking at persimmon wood now. You look down and the thing looks very small. It definitely visually was an adjustment in San Diego, but once you hit it in the fairway it doesn't matter what it looks like.

DOUG MILNE: All right, well Gary, we appreciate your time as always, best of luck this week.

GARY WOODLAND: Thank you, guys. Appreciate it.

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