Wed, 17 Jul 2019

Washington - Gary Woodland returns to the US PGA Tour this week after winning the US Open at Pebble Beach, trying to figure out the new realities after his first major title.

The 35-year-old American tees off in the Rocket Mortgage Classic, a new event at Detroit Golf Club, on Thursday alongside compatriots Brandt Snedeker and Keith Mitchell.

"It's nice to be back out here this week, nice to get back to the grind, get back to the routine," Woodland said Wednesday. "It's exciting to get back out here and play."

Woodland fired a 13-under par 271 over 72 holes at Pebble Beach to defeat defending champion Brooks Koepka by three strokes.

After that came a whirlwind media tour, a long weekend off during which he celebrated his son's second birthday and then a return to practice rounds that he cut short to get some rest.

"It's more about focusing on myself, focusing on hitting golf shots," Woodland said.

Woodland, ranked 12th, still has plenty to play for this year, including next month's British Open, the US PGA playoffs and qualifying for the US team that will defend the Presidents Cup later this year.

"There's still a lot at stake," Woodland said. "Being a major champion is awesome, but I'm still trying to win more, still trying to get better."

Woodland, whose 2009 PGA debut season was cut short by a shoulder injury, has won four career tour titles, including the 2011 Transitions Championship, the 2013 Reno-Tahoe Open and last year's Phoenix Open.

Through good times and bad, Woodland's philosophy has been to have faith in his skill and confidence in his ability to win.

"Believe in yourself. If you work hard and suround yourself with the right people anything is possible," Woodland said.

Woodland is far from finished with aiming at major golf prizes.

"I still have places I want to go and things I want to achieve," he said. "I still believe in myself and if I continue to do that I believe I'll get where I want to be."

This week, that means hoisting a trophy against a top field that includes world number two Dustin Johnson, who plays alongside 2018 Masters winner Patrick Reed and Chez Reavie in the first two rounds.

Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson tees off Thursday alongside countryman Billy Horschel and 2017 US Open runner-up Hideki Matsuyama of Japan

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