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Gary Woodland's journey through heartbreak to the US Open champion



PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – His son had just won the US Open on 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 boy Gary was a PGA Tour rookie trying to make the cut on this very course at Pebble Beach [19659002

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

Coded [19659002] "I passed," said Dan Woodland. "Passed away"

"Yes," he said.

Dan does not remember much about that whole week in Scottsdale, Arizona, hospital in 2009, other than the fact that he was gone and the doctors brought him back. "People ask me all the time," Did you see any lights? "Woodland said. "Well, 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 Gary left for AT & T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The triple-bypass surgery was thought to be a success. But two days later, Dan suddenly lapsed into a cardiac arrest.

"It happened right in front of me," Linda said. "I screamed for a nurse … They made a code blue in his room and a couple of times over the intercom."

Linda was rushed into a conference room. . ERIK S LESSER / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock

"They carted him right past me," she said. "

When the doctors reemerged, they told Linda that her husband had been gone three or four minutes before he

"They ended up putting in a pacemaker defibrillator, and, ironically, last week the battery just went out," Linda said. "It's about a 1

0-year span, and now he's scheduled to have that replaced in a couple of weeks."

The mother of the U.S. Open champion laughed and motioned toward her husband, dressed in a Wilson cap and a dark sweatsuit as he beamed on the shores of the Pacific

"Look," Linda said. "It's doing great now."

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1:41

Andy North breaks down how Gary Woodland was able to win the US Open and what Woodland proved himself

How could Dan Woodland be doing any better? He had just watched his 35-year-old son win his first major championship by holding off Brooks Koepka, and chaser with Arnold Palmer's arms and Jack Nicklaus' taste for the biggest moments. On Sunday, in the final round of the U.S. Open, Woodland hit and remarkable 3-wood on par-5 14th, and an even better chip shot on the green at par-3 17th, to beat Koepka, and four-time major winner in his previous eight starts. Woodland then made a long birdie putt on the iconic final hole that inspired him to lift his putter towards the darkening sky before the ball dropped. That left him with a final score of 13-under, one stroke better than Tiger Woods' 2000 score at Pebble in the most dominant performance the game has seen

Having denied Koepka's bid for a historic U.S. Open three-peat, Woodland walked off the course and into the arms of the guy who had coached him in youth baseball and basketball, but not in golf.

"He was hard on me," Gary said. "He never let me win."

Gary finally beat Dan in golf at age 13, and in hoops a year or two after that. Sunday night, sitting next to the national championship trophy, Gary described his old man, a long-time electric contractor, as his best friend

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

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

"It was his first child," Linda said. "Just having a wife that's pregnant and then losing one of [the children]it's such a traumatic experience." He was getting a lot of that through getting people and texts from people all over the world – and that helped. "[19659029] Gary Woodland's parents celebrated after their son won his first major championship. Ian O'Connor / ESPN.com

After Woodland nailed his third PGA Tour victory – in a playoff at the 2018 Waste Management Phoenix Open – he patted his heart, blew a kiss and pointed to the sky in honor of his lost girl. Gary was there when Gabby delivered the daughter who never had a chance at life.

"That's real," he said after his Phoenix victory, "and I just wanted her to know I still love her." said his wife suffered two miscarriages last year, and happily reported she is pregnant and due to deliver identical twin girls in August.

As a high school basketball star in Topeka, Gary once tried to draw a charge on an opponent fixing to dunk on him .

"Doctors said," You're not playing basketball for several weeks, "" Linda said of her son, who was injured on a Tuesday. "We were out of town, so we went to a doctor in Topeka and Gary said," I'm playing Friday. " And he did. "

A Division II basketball player at Washburn University, Woodland would not let a broken finger suffer in practice from playing against his dream school, Kansas, in a preseason game in Allen Fieldhouse. "He played with his fingers taped together," said Linda. "It never quits."

As a young boy, Gary never wanted to quit swinging away with the lighter ladies clubs his parents bought him when he was 3 years old.

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Gary Woodland talks about his first love, playing basketball and "We would buy buckets and buckets of balls," said Linda, who has been working in banking for 46 years. "

Before they could drag their kids away, the sports center gave a lecture to Dan and Linda Woodland

"Do not let anyone touch him," he said

Do not let anyone touch that swing

from his first love, basketball, and towards a spot on the golf team at Kansas, and then towards life as a pro. By any measure, Woodland was a PGA Tour success, and a very good player struggling to find a bridge to greatness. He became best known as the golfer who guided Amy Bockerstette, a young golfer with Down Syndrome, through an amazing practice-round par at TPC Scottsdale, a moment captured on a video that now has more than 5 million views. Gary and Amy were FaceTiming each other Sunday night, and for good reason.

Woodland entered the final round with a 0-for-7 record when holding a share of the lead after 54 holes.

"I saw a different golfer this week," Dan said. (19659002) "It's like a pitcher throwing a no-hitter," Dan said.

Gary was just doing what he was doing fine out there on his own. Dan noticed that his son was walking the course with his hands in his pockets; he'd never seen that before. The father figured Gary had come up with a new trick to slow himself down.

It worked. On the 72nd hole of the 119th U.S. Open, the fans chanted Gary's name and gave shoutouts to Washburn basketball and Kansas golf. The slugger had proven that he had the short game to ace's most demanding sport.

During the trophy presentation on the green, Dan Woodland was asked if he had thought about the Tiger's 2000 number, lifted his arms in touchdown form, and then wrapped his father in a bear hug. the fact that 10 years earlier, he almost died while his son was trying to get his career going on the same course that now made him a US Open champ

"I did not really," he said, before his eyes began to fill with tears on Father's Day.

"I know she's got it,"

"I know she's gone, Gary's daughter. up there saying, 'That's my father.' "


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