119th U.S. Open Championship
Of all the storylines surrounding this year’s U.S. Open Championship, played at the iconic Pebble Beach Golf Course, Gary Woodland winning his first major was quite a ways down the list (if even on the list at all).
There was Brooks Koepka vying to be only the second player in the history of the U.S. Open to win three consecutive championships, Phil Mickelson’s desperate attempt to complete the career grand slam before time runs out on his career, Tiger Woods chasing major history after his incredible Masters victory, Justin Rose trying to add a second major championship to his name, as well as a litany of other rooting interests.
The opening day saw Rose, Rickie Fowler and a strong contingency of well-known stars atop the leaderboard. As the weather remained cool along the California coast, scores leveled off, too. After 3 days of play, Gary Woodland found himself in a position he’s been in seven times before, leading the tournament with a chance to close the deal.
However, Woodland has not done well with a Saturday night lead. Staring down an 0-7 record when holding a 54-hole lead, Woodland picked one heck of a moment to finally follow through and finish the job. Winning on Tour is special, but to win a major championship cements a player’s legacy in the pantheon of golfing elites.
Sunday’s round provided intense, non-stop action. Brooks’ furious start meant Woodland had very little room for error. Gary said after the round that he never believed it was over, but the 3 wood from over 260 yards on the par 5 14th that carried the bunker by no more than a couple of yards may have sealed the tournament.
With a 2-shot lead on 18, Woodland played it safe with an iron off the tee, a layup that took all danger out of play and an approach shot that left him about 30 feet for birdie, Gary executed the perfect game plan. He could 3 putt and still win. It only took 1.
As the putt crested over the edge of the hole, Gary Woodland drove an emphatic fist pump and a loud exclamation, “BOOM!”. He won the U.S. Open by 3 strokes. His fourth career PGA Tour victory and his first major.
Amidst a plethora of negative talk about numerous player’s reputations throughout the 2019 PGA Tour season, Gary has never been spoken about in a negative light by the media or his peers.
He constantly reps the Folds of Honor insignia on his clothing and his bag, raising awareness for families who have lost a family member in American military service. The video of him and Amy Brockerstette, the Special Olympics golfer who teed it up with Gary on the famed 16th at TPC Scottsdale, has gone viral and is a lesson in grace, humility and dignity.
From all the accounts I’ve read and what I’ve seen from a far, Gary Woodland is one of the stand-up guys on the PGA Tour and the U.S. Open could not have received a better champion.
Gary Woodland plays a mixed bag, including the stunning Wilson Staff Model Blades. These are the clubs he used to win the U.S. Open. (As reported by PGATOUR):
Meijer LPGA Classic
At this week’s Meijer LPGA Classic, Brooke Henderson did most of her work on Thursday and Friday, before outlasting strong final round charges from Lexi Thompson, Nasa Hataoka, Su Oh and Brittany Altomare.
Beginning the tournament with back to back rounds of 64 situated Brooke in the driver’s seat all week long, but some of the LPGA’s best weren’t going to let her waltz home to the victory on Sunday. Henderson holed birdies on 4, 6 and 13, before dropping a shot on the 16th.
On the 18th tee her objective was clear, make a par, finish at 21-under and the Classic was hers. Leaving herself with a mere formality of a final putt, Brooke tapped in the victorious par.
With her 9th career LPGA Tour title, the 21-year old Brooke Henderson is now the winningest Canadian on either the LPGA or PGA Tour. No one can be sure how many events Moe Norman would have won on the PGA Tour if he had decided not to return to Canada and spurn the American professional tour, but the future looks incredibly bright for this young Canadian.