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Noted Dallas-area coach Randy Smith has worked with Woodland for nearly six years. Woodland's biggest improvements of late came in the short game and course management. He sought help from Brad Faxon, one of the better putters on Tour over the last two decades. Faxon observed that Woodland's stroke was a bit slow, which made it easier for the putter to get off-line. They worked on quickening the pace, Woodland says, and he had a sensational week on the greens at Innisbrook.
He holed a 16-foot downhill slider for a birdie at the 17th hole to tie for the lead and an uphill 10-footer for par on the final green for what turned out to be the winner when Webb Simpson, playing in the group behind, bogeyed the last. Remarkably, Woodland on Sunday holed all 17 of his putts inside 20 feet.
Woodland also has adopted a more conservative style of golf. "I'm learning that you can't fire at every pin and hit driver every hole," he says. "I did that in '09, and it didn't work very well."
He used his driver only four or five times a round at Innisbrook, and at the 446-yard, uphill par-4 18th on Sunday, he switched from a three-wood to a two-iron and launched it 284 yards, leaving himself a pitching wedge in.
"He's no surprise," says Nick Watney, who won a week earlier at Doral and was 13th at the Transitions. "He can shift it." That's golfspeak for, "He hits it long."
As a result of his victory, Woodland can set his schedule. In addition to the Masters, he'll play this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, which is in Orlando, where he lives at Lake Nona. Then there's the Shell Houston Open the week before the Masters. He'll probably play that one too. "Houston is a great course [Redstone Golf Club] for me," he says.
It will be a big weekend for sports in Houston, as the Final Four will also be in town. "If Kansas is there, I'll definitely be there," Woodland says.
And if Kansas were to win it all? Well, that's a different dream entirely.