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Gary Woodland's journey through the broken heart up to the open American champion



PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – His son had just won the US Open at Father's Day, and Dan Woodland was standing near the 18th green talking about the day his heart stopped beating, 10 years ago, when his son Gary was a beginner on the PGA circuit trying to make the cut on this course even at Pebble Beach.

Dan Woodland had a heart attack while playing golf, even though he thought it was a heartburn at the time.

"I had three bypasses," he said Sunday night, "and then I coded it."

Code?

"I have succeeded," said Dan Woodland. "Past."

Died?

"Yes," he says.

Dan does not remember much of all this week spent in a Scottsdale, Arizona, hospital in 2009, aside from the fact that he was gone and that the doctors had brought him back. "People ask me all the time:" Have you seen any lights? " Said Woodland. "No, I did not even know it was happening."

His wife, Linda, knew exactly what was going on. Gary and his sister, C.J., had spent time with their father after the heart attack and before he left for AT & T Pebble Beach's Pro-Am. Triple bypass surgery was considered a success. But two days later, Dan suddenly fell into cardiac arrest.

"It just happened in front of me," said Linda. "I screamed for a nurse … they made a blue code in her room several times through the intercom."

Linda was rushed into a conference room.

"They took it to me," she said. "There were all these doctors and nurses around him, you could not even see him.They immediately brought him back to surgery."

When the doctors came back, they told Linda that her husband had left three or four minutes before being resuscitated.

"They ended up installing a pacemaker defibrillator and, paradoxically, the battery was emptied last week," said Linda. "It lasts about 10 years, and now it's planned to replace it in a few weeks."

The mother of the American Open champion laughed and motioned to her husband, wearing a Wilson cap and a dark tracksuit as he shone on the shores of the Pacific.

"Look," Linda said. "He's fine now."

to play

1:41

Andy North explains how Gary Woodland was able to win the American Open and what Woodland has proven.

How could Dan Woodland do better? He had just watched his 35-year-old son win his first title by holding Brooks Koepka, a chaser on Arnold Palmer's arms and the taste of Jack Nicklaus for the greatest moments. On Sunday, at the last round of the US Open, Woodland hit a remarkable 14 points on the Wood 3 and an even better shot on the putting green at the 17th part of the Normal-17, to beat Koepka, four times better. big winner in his last eight starts. Woodland then made a long birdie throw on the last iconic hole that inspired him to lift his putter to the darkened sky before the ball was released. That earned him a final score of 13 cents, better than Pebble's Tiger Woods score in 2000 in the most dominant performance the game has seen.

Rejecting Koepka's candidacy for a historic three-round American tournament, Woodland left the course and entered the arms of the man who had coached him in baseball and basketball for youth, but not in Golf.

"He was tough with me," said Gary. "He never let me win."

Gary finally defeated Dan at age 13, then a year or two later. Sunday night, sitting next to the national championship trophy, Gary described his old man, a longtime electrical contractor, as his best friend.

"I would not be where I am today without my father, and the way he treated me and the way he was hard on me," Gary said. "And it's something I'm looking forward to doing with my son."

Woodland's son, Jaxson, will be 2 next week. Two years ago, Gary and his wife, Gabby, were expecting twins when they lost their daughter three months before the birth of Jaxson, 10 weeks premature, weighing three pounds. Dan and Linda helped their son through this devastating event in the young couple's life.

"It was her first child," said Linda. "Just having a pregnant woman and losing one of the [the children]it's a traumatic experience. He has matured a lot thanks to that. He was getting text messages and emails from people around the world – and that helped. "

After Woodland had won his third victory on the PGA Tour – in the playoffs at the 2018 Waste Management Open – he patted his heart, sent a kiss and pointed to the sky in the # The honor of his lost daughter. Gary was there when Gabby delivered the girl who never had a chance to live.

"It's true," he said after his victory in Phoenix, "and I just wanted her to know that I still love her."

Gary said that his wife had done two miscarriages last year and that she was happy to find that she was pregnant and that she had to give identical binoculars in August. Gabby was at home on Sunday with his healthy son while Gary came to the world as one of the toughest golfers alive.

As high school basketball star in Topeka, Gary has already tried to blame an opponent for knocking him out. He had a knee in the chest that left him with a collapsed trachea and a gym exit on a stretcher.

"The doctors said," You will not play basketball for several weeks, "said Linda about her son, who was injured on a Tuesday." We were out of town, so we went to see a doctor in Topeka and Gary. said: "I play Friday." And he did it. "

A Division II basketball player from Washburn University, Woodland, would not let a broken finger in practice prevent him from playing against his dream school, Kansas, in a pre-season game at Allen Fieldhouse.

"He played with his fingers stuck together," said Linda. "He played all his injuries, he never leaves."

As a young boy, Gary never wanted to stop playing with lighter women's clubs that his parents had bought him at the age of 3. Dan and Linda took their son to a sports center in Topeka with a driving range and a normal 3 course.

to play

1:37

Gary Woodland talks about his first love, playing basketball and how he eventually evolved to become a golfer.

"We would buy buckets and buckets of bullets," said Linda, who has worked in banking for 46 years. "His little hands, they did not have such small gloves, his hands were bleeding, and he still wanted to hit balls."

Before being able to bring their child, the sports center professional gave a lesson to Dan and Linda Woodland.

"Do not let anyone touch him," he says.

Do not let anyone touch this swing.

In the end, this swing proved to be natural enough to move Gary away from his first love, basketball, and integrate him into the Kansas golf team, then into professional life. In all respects, Woodland has been a success on the PGA Tour, a very good player who struggles to find a bridge to greatness. He became better known as the golfer who guided Amy Bockerstette, a young Down's Syndrome golfer, through an amazing training session at TPC Scottsdale, a moment captured in a video that now boasts more than 5 million views. Gary and Amy were face to face against each other on Sunday night, and for good reason.

Woodland entered the finals with a record of 0-7, holding at least one run in advance after 54 holes. He knew it would be the most stressful part of his life and yet his father noticed that his boy was as calm as he had ever been.

"I saw a different golfer this week," Dan said.

The old man started to smell butterflies on Friday night and did not want to tell Gary any more about what was going on in Pebble.

"It's like a pitcher throwing a non-hitter," Dan said.

Gary was doing well alone. Dan noticed that his son was following the course with his hands in his pockets. he had never seen it before. The father thought Gary had invented a new trick to slow down.

It worked. At the 72nd hole of the 119th US Open, fans chanted Gary's name and praised Washburn Basketball and Kansas Golf. The slugger had proved that he possessed the short game to pass the most demanding test of the sport. Woodland managed the latter's putt to beat Tiger's 2000 number, raising his arms in the form of touchdown, then wrapping his father in a bear hug.

At the presentation of the trophy on the putting green, Dan Woodland was asked about the fact that he had almost died 10 years earlier, while his son was trying to advance his career on the same course that made him a champion of the US Open. .

"I really did not do it," he says, before his eyes begin to fill with tears on Father's Day. Dan stopped for a few moments to gather.

"What I thought a lot about [on Sunday], "he said, his voice broke," was the one that had been lost, Gary's daughter.

"I know she's up there saying:" It's my dad. "


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