Gary Woodland: Former US Open champion to return after brain surgery

Gary Woodland playing practice round at Sony Open in Hawaii
Image caption,Woodland was the world number 25 when winning his maiden major title at Pebble Beach

Former US Open champion Gary Woodland says he wants to “jump-start” his career as he returns to the sport after surgery to remove a brain tumour.

The American, who won the 2019 US Open at Pebble Beach, was diagnosed in May last year and had surgery in September.

Woodland, 39, will play at the Sony Open in Hawaii on Thursday, his first appearance since August.

“I don’t want this to be a bump in the road for me. I want it to be a jump-start in my career,” Woodland said.

“You can overcome tough, scary decisions in your life. Not everything is easy. This came out of nowhere for me, but I’m not going to let it stop me.

“At the end of the day, I’m here because I believe this is what I’ve been born to do, play great golf. I want to do that again. It’s been a while.

“Nothing is going to stop me. I believe that. I believe a lot of great things are ahead.”

Woodland said he has an MRI scan every three months and “everything came back well” from his most recent examination.

He began to experience symptoms shortly after last year’s Masters but continued to play on the PGA Tour while on medication.

“I just wasn’t feeling like myself. It was a lot of jolting, especially in the middle of the night. Shaking; hands were really tremoring,” he said, describing his symptoms.

“A lot of fear. I was very fear-driven every day, mostly around death. As it got worse, loss of appetite, chills, no energy.”

A specialist told Woodland he had been experiencing partial seizures.

The four-time PGA Tour winner played in 24 events in 2023, finishing in the top 10 on two occasions, but was eventually encouraged to undergo surgery to remove the tumour.

“My caddie pulled me aside [and told me] you can’t play this way,” Woodland said. “You’ve got to go get help. You’ve got to get fixed. I would be standing over a club and forget which club I’m hitting.

“I would be lining up putts and think, this is taking too long. I’m just going to hit it. I didn’t have the focus or the energy.”

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