Woodland settled in after pressing too much early
Gary Woodland feels he “pressed a little bit too much early” before storming home to snatch the first-round lead at the US PGA Championship.
A late flurry of birdies saw Woodland leapfrog Rickie Fowler atop the leaderboard by one shot courtesy of Thursday’s six-under-par 64.
Woodland birdied seven of his last 11 holes to take the lead heading into the second round at Bellerive Country Club in St Louis.
“I probably pressed a little bit too much early,” Woodland said after his round. “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 five and outside of that I hit the golf ball beautifully.”
Woodland – a three-time PGA Tour champion – said: “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.”
Though Woodland excelled, he understands there is a lot of golf left to play this week. Major championships have not been kind to the 34-year-old, who has never even contended in one.
“I think a lot of it is pressing. I’ve set my schedule the last couple years to gear up for the Majors,” Woodland said. “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 turf’s 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 12th 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.”