Read the column here of someone who has covered Gary Woodland for-ev-er.
By TEDDY ALLEN/Designated Writers
A friend had a big day Sunday. But first…
Wait. Toronto has a professional basketball team?
Turns out it does, and its Raptors are the NBA champs after knocking off Golden State days and days and days ago. Thursday night, actually.
Earlier that day, one of the most anticipated golf tournaments of the year had begun. After Round 1 of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, Rickie Fowler led at minus-5, Scott Piercy was second at minus-4, and Gary Woodland of Topeka, Kansas — he’s in the Topeka Hall of Fame!, which I didn’t know existed until Sunday — was tied with a heap of others at minus-3.
Woodland was the survivor. He one won for the heartland Sunday, knocking down a 30-foot putt that rolled into the hole like a homesick gopher for a birdie on 18 and a 3-shot victory at the 119th U.S. Open. The 35-year-old held off Justin Rose, whose swing got loose, and two-time defending champ Brooks Koepka, who finished second and couldn’t overcome a dude who made just four bogeys all weekend, tied for an all-time U.S. Open best. First major for Woodland, fourth PGA victory.
But here’s what makes it sweet for me. I get to see and crack jokes with easygoing, quick-to-smile sportswriter Brent Maycock of the Topeka Capital-Journal each April in Augusta, and Woodland is his boy. Just like David Toms or Sam Burns is Roy Land III’s guy, or, to a lesser extent, my boy. (Or I’m their second-string guy.) The point is, you want Your Guy to do well; makes for a better story.
Woodland has for the most part struggled at Augusta national.
But Brent’s column not long after Sunday’s final round began this way:
The first rule of professionalism in sports journalism is to put your rooting interests aside and be objective and unbiased.
For the bulk of my career, I’ve held firm to that conviction.
This week? Damn the rules.
…Hometown hero Gary Woodland, whom I’ve covered since his days at Shawnee Heights, became a major champion…Showing nerves of steel with some of the biggest names in golf, including world No. 1 and two-time reigning Open champion Brooks Koepka, giving chase, Woodland delivered on the promise and potential he’s shown since he first picked up a golf club.
Don’t know if I’ll be at the Masters in August. Pretty sure Brent and Woodland will be. Good for Topeka!