'I Probably Came Back Too Early' - Gary Woodland Makes Frank Admission After Firing Lowest Round Since Brain Surgery

Gary Woodland is in contention at the Charles Schwab Challenge after a superb second-round 64 at Colonial

Gary Woodland of the United States walks the fifth green during the second round of the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club on May 24, 2024
Gary Woodland underwent brain surgery in September last year
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Gary Woodland's return from brain surgery in January was a heart-warming story to start the year, but it hasn't been plain sailing for the former US Open champion since then. 

Having undergone surgery to remove a lesion in the brain, Woodland was back on the course competing just four months later, but four missed cuts in his first five starts outlined the scale of the task ahead of him.

The American, though, has been on a steady upward trajectory since then and fired himself into contention for the first time since his return after a superb second-round 64 at the Charles Schwab Challenge.

"I just put everything together. It's been a while. I think that's the lowest round of golf I've shot on Tour in a couple years. It was nice," he said after the round. 

"It was nice to have all aspects. I drove it well, iron play, controlled the ball really well, and the short game was nice and made some putts. It's been a long time since I put it all together."

Perhaps one of the reasons why Woodland's game hasn't come together until now was the hasty turnaround from surgery. Reflecting on it now, the 40-year-old realises it was perhaps too quick but now appreciates just how far he has come.

"It's been a process for me, just coming back. I probably came back too early," he said. "I still just don't feel how I want to feel. Charlotte [at the Wells Fargo Championship] was the first week I went back to where I had a tournament where I had symptoms the year before and it was eye-opening for me just to be, like, 'I don't feel great, but I don't feel like I did a year ago.'

"I think I've forgotten about some of that because I was just so thankful to be back. So the last three weeks has been a lot more pep in my step, I think, a little more excitement. I needed that."

Gary Woodland (USA) plays a shot at the 11th hole during the first round of the 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club

Gary Woodland finished T60 at last week's PGA Championship

(Image credit: Getty Images)

"I'm still battling, still on medication, still battling all the stuff, but probably a little more positive, I would say, the last three weeks than I was earlier this year. I think I was getting down on myself just because I didn't feel well. There's a lot to be positive about because I'm in a different position than I was a year ago."

Woodland sits six shots back of halfway leader Davis Riley and will need an impressive weekend display to get his first victory since his Major triumph at Pebble Beach in 2019. Whatever happens, though, the American knows this week represents another step in getting back to where he wants to be. 

"Negative energy's contagious. I've been thankful, but it's been hard on myself just when you wake up and you don't feel great, and that's not a good attitude and energy to have," he said. 

"It took me to going back to a place where I remembered how bad it was a year ago and I'm like, 'Oh, wow, I'm getting better.' I think the energy's changed for me the last three weeks and something I'll continue to build on."

Ben Fleming

Ben joined Golf Monthly having completed his NCTJ in multimedia sports journalism at News Associates, London. He is now a freelance journalist who also works for The Independent, Metro, UEFA and Stats Perform.