Gary Woodland Gets a Grip on Putting Woes, Soars to PGA Lead
But all that might be about to change for the 34-year-old American because he got a new grip on his putter and soared to the first-round lead Thursday at the 100th PGA Championship at Bellerive.
Woodland sank seven birdies in a 10-hole stretch, dropping a career-best 153 feet of putts in all, to fire a six-under par 64 and lead compatriot Rickie Fowler by a stroke round one.
He barely missed an 18-foot birdie putt at 18 to match the lowest round in PGA Championship history.
Woodland’s best result in any of his 27 major starts was a share of 12th at the 2011 PGA and 2016 British Open.
“Definitely in the majors it’s frustrating,” Woodland said. “I don’t even have a top-10, which is frustrating because I feel like where I am and where I should be is not results that I have had.
“This year I thought going in the golf courses suited me as well as any year lately and I just still got nothing.”
That, however, was before a breakthrough talk with putting coach Phil Kenyon at the British Open and a simple change of grip on his putter.
“I literally put a SuperStroke grip on and it fixed everything,” Woodland said. “Phil said don’t change anything. I didn’t have to think anymore. I literally grab the putter and go.
“I was hitting it so good and just got nothing out of it. He showed me some things he saw that I was doing wrong in my stroke and it really took the last week and a half, a lot of time on the putting green, and I’ve started to feel pretty comfortable this week and it was nice to see results.”
Among his birdie putts Thursday were a 44-footer at 11 and 23-footers at 12 and the par-3 16th.
“I’m hitting it so well if I give myself the chances like I did today good things will happen,” Woodland said.
He’s not measuring himself for a Ryder Cup outfit just yet, even though the Americans defend the trophy next month in France. But he hasn’t given up a trip to Paris, either by winning this week to qualify on points on earning a pick from US captain Jim Furyk.
“I definitely think there’s still room,” he said. “That’s been as frustrating as my major record. I’ve been in the fitting I think for the last seven years for all the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup’s fittings.
“I tried all the clothes on. I’ve seen them all and I’ve just never had a chance to make the team. Last year was probably as close as I made and that’s frustrating.”