U.S. Open 2019: Gary Woodland wins one for the good guys

PEBBLE BEACH, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 16: Gary Woodland of the United States poses with the trophy after winning the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links on June 16, 2019 in Pebble Beach, California. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
PEBBLE BEACH, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 16: Gary Woodland of the United States poses with the trophy after winning the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links on June 16, 2019 in Pebble Beach, California. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images) /

Gary Woodland might not be the player you wanted to win the U.S. Open a week ago, but you can’t possibly be upset with the champion from Pebble Beach.

Gary Woodland isn’t the guy you expected to win the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. But after a magnificent week of golf that touched just about every possible heart string for even the coldest observer, you can’t possibly be upset, either.

Let’s get the golf out of the way first. Woodland has been on the cusp of something great for quite a while now. It mostly came down to a matter of timing, and this week, it was right. The guy had seven top tens in 17 starts, most recently a tie for eighth at the PGA Championship.

He’s an absolute masher that can hang with the longest players in the world, but he’s also got a touch with irons that makes him one of the purest strikers in the game today. He tied for 22nd this week in fairways hit, solo second (behind runner-up Brooks Koepka) in greens in regulation, and second in strokes gained putting. That last one really put him over the top, and it was punctuated by a deep birdie on the 72nd hole that sealed the deal, officially.

Let’s not forget how close Woodland has come before today. He held the 18- and 36-hole leads at last year’s PGA Championship, and

It was a spectacular showing of golf all around, and most weeks, that’s enough of a story to go on. For a U.S. Open, especially, this was a golfing clinic. But Gary Woodland is far more than an outstanding golfer. He’s the kind of guy you want to win because he just seems like that nice of a person.

I’m sure you’ll remember back to late January and the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Woodland met a wonderful young lady by the name of Amy Bockerstette, and she got to walk inside the ropes with him at TPC Scottsdale’s famous stadium 16th. Then, Woodland invited her to hit the tee shot, in front of thousands of fans, dozens of media and – oh yeah – some of the PGA TOUR’s finest players.

She made par on the hole after finding a greenside bunker off the tee, and Woodland’s sincere joy for her shone through. That made the video of the day go viral, but it didn’t stop there. The two have quietly kept in touch in the months since, as Amy went on to play college golf at Paradise Valley Community College.


Gary Woodland got to celebrate Amy back in January. Today, she got to return the sentiment.

As it traditionally is, U.S. Open Sunday also happens to be Father’s Day here in the States. Twenty years ago, Payne Stewart defeated Phil Mickelson at Pinehurst. With tears of joy filling his eyes, the champion went to Mickelson, and congratulated the father to be. “Good luck with the baby! There’s nothing like being a father!”

That moment was iconic, and it’s only gotten better over the years. For Gary Woodland, though, this win might be even more important when it comes to family. Two years ago, he and his wife, Gabby, were expecting twins, a boy and a girl, but sadly they lost the girl during her pregnancy. Their son, Jackson, was born prematurely, but he’s about to turn two, and he’s doing great.

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Gabby Woodland was at home with Jackson this week during Gary’s run to the U.S. Open championship. A two-year-old is handful enough for most, but Gabby and Gary are now expecting another set of twins, both girls this time, and the family couldn’t be more excited. I won’t pretend to know what they’ve been through, but as a father myself, I know how much every moment means.

Woodland took time to acknowledge the role his own dad played in bringing him to this point, as well as the perspective he’s gained in both his family’s loss and its growth. While so many of us get laser focused on career goals and the like, he’s out there doing what he does best for the benefit of those he loves. Can’t beat that.

In sports, and especially in golf, it’s hard to remember sometimes that it isn’t always winning that makes someone happy. Sure it feels good in the moment, especially when reaching the pinnacle of your profession, realizing so many of your life’s dreams have come true.

But sometimes, it takes being truly happy, genuine and authentic to become the person who can win on the grandest stages. You might not have been pulling for Gary Woodland to win this thing a week ago, for any number of reasons. But take a minute, and when you really get to know who he is as a man…how could you not be thrilled to see this particular dream coming true?

Next. The 25 most dominant performances in U.S. Open history. dark

Gary Woodland – your 2019 U.S. Open champion. That smile you feel coming on? Go with it. This is one of the good ones.