StatsJune 16, 2019

U.S. Open 2019: The crazy stat that shows Gary Woodland's win was even more surprising than you thought

Gary Woodland plays a second shot on the 12th hole during the final round of the 2019 U.S. Open.
Andrew RedingtonGary Woodland plays a second shot on the 12th hole during the final round of the 2019 U.S. Open.

PEBBLE BEACH — Let's get this out of the way: Gary Woodland is not a fluke major champ. The 35-year-old entered this week as the 25th-ranked player in the world with three previous PGA Tour titles, and he's not even the lowest-ranked player to win the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in the past decade (That honor goes to a 37th-ranked Graeme McDowell in 2010). But that still doesn't mean we should have expected him to win on Sunday. After all, one glaring stat suggested it wouldn't happen.

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No, we're not talking about the fact that Woodland had never won a major championship but rather that he had never won any PGA Tour event as the 54-hole leader. And it's not like he hadn't had his chances.

Entering Sunday's final round, Woodland was 0-for-7 in those situations in his career; all three of his previous wins had been come-from-behind efforts. So how did he manage to close the deal in this manner for the first time? In a major championship, no less?

"I think from a mental standpoint I was as good as I've ever been," Woodland said. "I never let myself get ahead of myself. I never thought about what would happen if I won, what comes with it. I wanted to execute every shot. I wanted to stay in the moment. I wanted to stay within myself. I knew I was playing good going in, but I've been playing good going into a lot of tournaments before and haven't had the results I'd like. I was proud of myself to stay in it, to slow down a little bit, to slow my thinking down and really focus on what I was doing and not let my mind wander at all."

Following his win, the former college basketball player also talked about how he used to be a 90-percent free-throw shooter. So as a guy who knows a thing or two about percentages, we're sure he understands that being one-for-eight now at something still isn't great.

That being said, he certainly picked the right time to convert. And having finished off a major championship, at Pebble Beach, while playing with a former World No. 1 and being chased by the current World No. 1, he's answered any questions anyone might have had about his ability to close for good.

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