Monday qualifier Woodland grabs lead in Nationwide Knoxville stop

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PGA.com

Series:

Gary Woodland figured he needed one good score this year to get over the hump. The 26-year-old Kansas native did that last Monday when he shot a 60 in the open qualifier and earned a spot in the Knoxville News Sentinel Open.

“They’re no fun,” he said of the Monday chases. “You can play really well and not get in. Fortunately, I did and got a little momentum to start the week.”

Woodland has carried that solid play to an 11-under 133 total and a two-shot lead at the halfway point of the Nationwide Tour event at Fox Den Country Club.

Woodland has posted scores of 68-65 and is up by a pair over Brian Stuard (67), Brady Schnell (65), veteran Kirk Triplett (68) and rookie William McGirt (68). Five more players are another stroke back at 8-under 136, including first-round leader Zack Miller (70).

Woodland, who now lives in Orlando, stormed to the lead with a 7-under 29 on the back nine.

“I hit it close all day but didn’t make anything on the front side,” he said. “I kept telling myself that if you knock on the door long enough it will open. I got a couple putts to drop early and I kept going. It felt like I had five to 10 feet on every hole.”

Woodland was a rookie on the PGA Tour last year but had his season cut short by a torn labrum in his shoulder that required surgery. Playing on medical exemption this year, he had eight starts to try and retain his playing privileges but managed to make only three cuts, leaving him to fight for starts.

“It’s been frustrating because I feel like I’ve been playing pretty good this year but I haven’t scored very well,” he said. “We looked at my stats from this year to last year and all of the numbers were better but the scores weren’t there. Finally, we got a score to go low Monday and now everything is going the right way.”

Part of Woodland’s success may be the result of a putting lesson he received at his last PGA Tour start, the Turning Stone Resort Championship.

“I worked a lot with Brad Faxon and he gave me a lot of things to work on,” he said. “A lot of them were mental as well as physical. He thought my putting stroke was pretty but gave me a lot of things to think about and it’s really starting to pay off.”

Second-Round Notes: Friday’s scoring average was 71.333. … Colt Knost (elbow), Dicky Pride (elbow) and Garrett Osborn (neck) withdrew during the second round because of injuries. … Gary Woodland is making his 39th career start (26 PGA Tour, 13th Nationwide Tour). His 133 score is two shots lower than his previous best on either tour -- a 135 total at this year’s Price Cutter Charity Championship in Springfield, MO, three weeks ago. … Not only has Woodland never led, he has never been in the top-10 after any round on either tour. His previous best standing after any round was a tie for 11th after the opening round of this year’s John Deere Classic (shot 66). His previous best standing after 36 holes was a tie for 12th at the halfway point of the 2009 U.S. Open.

Woodland has made two cuts in six starts on the Nationwide Tour this year. After missing his first four cuts, he has made the past two, tying for 52nd at the Melwood Prince George’s County Open and tying for 34th at the Price Cutter Charity Championship. He has earned $5,635 and is No. 182 on the money list. … A total of 66 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 3-under par 141. … Among those missing the cut was Hunter Haas (71-71), winner of the Tour’s most recent event, the Price Cutter Charity Championship. Haas also was a two-time champion in this event (2004, 2006). … Ten players in the top-25 on the money list didn’t advance to the weekend: No. 3 Martin Piller, No. 6 Bobby Gates, No. 8 Tag Ridings, No. 9 D.J. Brigman, No. 10 Hunter Haas, No. 15 James Hahn, No. 16 Justin Hicks, No. 20 Kyle Thompson, No. 22 B.J. Staten and No. 23 Brian Smock. Colt Knost, No. 25, withdrew Friday due to injury.