LA QUINTA, Calif. – In hindsight, maybe Gary Woodland should have sat out 2020 and allowed his left hip to heal. Maybe he should have had surgery to repair his torn labrum and endured the six-month recovery period. Or maybe things worked out just how they were supposed to.
“I borderline want to cry. It’s the first time I’ve played without pain in six months,” Woodland said following his final round at The American Express. “I got out of pain about three weeks ago and wanted to test it out. I was rusty, but it was great. That’s as positive as I can walk away from a golf course in a long time.”
Woodland finished tied for 18th place for his first top-20 finish since last July and, more importantly, he has a reason to be optimistic.
The American Express: Full-field scores | Full coverage
Although he said he’s not 100 percent healthy he is pain-free and that’s a massive upgrade over the four cortisone injections he was taking just to finish last year.
“This is the first time I’ve walked [on the course] in weeks. I’ve been too nervous to do it. To come out and play this week and walk 72 holes, it’s emotional for me,” said Woodland, who closed with a 70 to finish at 12 under par. “What I am doing right now gives me a chance to play golf.”
Woodland had not played a PGA Tour event since early December and he used the time off to work with his team on a recovery and conditioning plan that included work with a new chiropractor and what he called “a lot of maintenance.”
“We worked on strengthening everything around the hip. We were so focused on pain in the hip,” he said. “I’ve been out of pain for about a month now and it’s starting to feel pretty good. My speed is back, I’m able to hit shots I haven’t been able to hit in a long time.”