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Gary Woodland has his game in shape at PGA Championship

Gary Woodland was tied for third after the first round of the PGA championship. (AP photo).

Gary Woodland was tied for third after the first round of the PGA championship. (AP photo).

Gary Woodland’s work with Butch Harmon has enabled him to tame his driver this season to the extent he’s confident using it on more holes than he was in the past. Harmon also has helped Woodland find dial in precise distances for shots into the green. This season has marked a step forward for Woodland in every area but his putting.

Woodland might have won the Canadian Open in a playoff had he finished his fourth round better with his putter. On the final two holes he missed a 6-footer and 5-footer and fell two strokes shy of a playoff. The average PGA tour player makes 65 percent of his 6-footers and 75 percent from 5 feet. That calculates to 49 percent of the players making both, 42 percent making one and missing one and 9 percent missing both. That’s taking into account all putts, not just high-pressure ones, so the numbers probably go down under the sort of pressure Woodland faced. Either way, it was a tough outcome for a player who was striking the ball so well under pressure.

In 2011, when Woodland had as hot a putting streak as he’s had in his career he was working with noted putter Brad Faxon. Woodland called Faxon earlier this week to talk putting and he sought out Steve Stricker on Tuesday at the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte. Smart move. Woodland stroked just 25 putts on his way to a 3-under 68 in Thursday’s opening round.

“You could have made a lot of money betting that Jordan Spieth would drive the ball better than Sergio Garcia and Gary Wooldand would putt better than Spieth,” Brandel Chamblee said during the Golf Channel’s terrific coverage of the fourth major. “Those were the two biggest surprises of the day.”

Woodland entered today tied for third place. He tees off for the second round right … now.

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