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Gary Woodland fires 70 in opening round of AT&T National

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Gary Woodland, who withdrew last week with a sore back after one round, appears to be healthy again. That means I’m not. My blood pressure skyrockets, thanks to stress, with every bogey and again with every sub-par hole, thanks to excitement. Nothing in sports is more nerve-wracking than following a golfer via the Internet.

The color commentary of Thursday’s ride in the opening round of the AT&T National at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. went something like this: Woodland carded an eagle on No. 6, a par 5, and birdied par-4 No. 8 and par-3 No. 10 to get to four-under par: “Holy cow! He might win this thing and he’ll get to keep his tour card through 2015.” He carded bogeys on a pair of par-4 holes, Nos. 11 and 14, to fall back to one-under: “Oh no! If he could have just made par on those holes he’d be sitting pretty.” He rebounded with a four on the par-5 16th. “Nice!” And then he finished with bogeys on 17 and 18, both par-4 holes: “I hope it’s not his back acting up. Please don’t let it be his back. Or his wrist again.”

If Woodland stays healthy, he’ll have no problem finishing in the top 125. The tour is so much more interesting with the former KU golfer on it, especially now that he’s living in Lawrence during the summer. His Lawrence golf buddies, by the way, report that his putting stroke looks great. He completed one 18-hole round at Lawrence Country Club with 14 one-putt greens. His 1-under par 70 puts Thursday him in good shape to make the cut with another solid round Friday. Excluding the injury-forced withdrawal, that would make 10 consecutive cuts made for Woodland.

If Woodland does not win a tournament this year, he needs to finish in the top 125 on the money list to retain his PGA tour card. He entered the week ranked 122nd with $419,157.56 in earnings.

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