Ross Randall, the coach and mentor who recruited Gary Woodland to the KU men’s golf team after Woodland spent a year playing basketball at Washburn University, was “always to the point. There was no sugarcoating it, at all,” Woodland recalls.
Coach Randall, who passed away two years ago, wasn’t the only KU coach with a straight-talking reputation, and Woodland says he was especially glad to have closed out his first major-tournament victory, Sunday’s final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, so he wouldn’t catch heat when exchanging post-tournament text messages with his pal Bill Self.
“You talk about not sugarcoating anything,” Woodland, c’07, said with a laugh Thursday while driving to his home course in Palm Beach County, Florida, for his first practice session since a three-stroke victory over Brooks Koepka. “Coach has been hard on me at times when I haven’t finished, so I was glad to finish this time so he had nothing bad to say to me. He couldn’t get on me like he does some of his guys.”
Woodland, a Topeka native who now lives with his wife and son in South Florida while also maintaining a home in Lawrence, told Kansas Alumni magazine that he’s eager to return to Kansas and celebrate with family, friends and fans, and he promises he’ll bring along the gorgeous U.S. Open trophy when he does.
That’s down the road. For now, it’s back to work. Woodland entered the U.S. Open No. 9 on the PGA money list and exited at No. 4. He also vaulted from No. 12 in Presidents Cup standings to No. 7; the top eight automatically qualify for the U.S. team in the biennial match between the best American and international (minus Europe) golfers.
The Presidents Cup, this year set for December in Australia, has long been a goal for Woodland, as has the even more prestigious Ryder Cup, which features spirited matches between American and European stars. The next Ryder Cup is Sept. 25-27, 2020, in Wisconsin.
“I’ve always believed in myself, but it’s hard sometimes to get other people to buy in without results,” Woodland said. “I think I’ve proven that I’ve become a more complete player and I belong on the bigger stage. I have to continue to get better and continue to go out and prove myself, but I think I’ve proven that I belong.”
Among other highlights from Kansas Alumni’s conversation with Woodland: He again emphasized the joy he felt in sharing the spotlight with his young friend Amy Bockerstette—a Special Olympics golfer who had her own star turn on NBC’s “Today” show, during which Woodland surprised her with his unannounced visit—and bringing attention to Folds of Honor, an organization founded by retired fighter pilot Maj. Dan Rooney, c’96, g’97, that delivers scholarships to family members of fallen members of the U.S. armed forces.
“I’ve been a huge part of Folds of Honor since 2009, when Major Dan, a fellow Jayhawk, got me to buy in. Men and women who go sacrifice for us to be free and to follow our dreams while they go sacrifice everything, it’s pretty special and it’s an honor to give back.”
Woodland also revealed that he’s spent the past year and a half working on his putting game with his new coach, Pete Cowen. They started retooling his full swing in December, and only recently Cowen also convinced Woodland to change his preshot routine.
“I’ve had the same routine—I’m a creature of habit—since I was in college,” Woodland said. “He changed it all about a month ago and it’s really been clicking for me.”
Told that his inspirational U.S. Open victory had convinced many of his fellow KU basketball fans to now make time to follow him on the PGA Tour, Woodland, who keeps a Jayhawk emblem on his tour bag, affirmed his devotion to the crimson and blue.
“Obviously I’ve been a fan my whole life,” he said, “but I’ve matured, I grew up, I became a man at the University of Kansas, and I’ll never forget that.”
KU alumni in professional sports reached a new height Sunday evening as Gary Woodland, c’07, won the 119th U.S. Open to become the first Jayhawk to claim a major golf championship.
Woodland played golf at KU from 2004-2007, after starting his college career at Washburn, where he played basketball.
“I went to Washburn to play basketball and I always believed if basketball didn’t work out then I had golf to fall back on,” said Woodland at a post-tournament press conference. “In our first game we played Kansas, they were ranked No. 1 in Division I. I was guarding Kirk Hinrich and I was like, ‘Okay I need to find something else because this isn’t going to work.'”
A native of Topeka, Kansas, Woodland is a Jayhawk through and through. See for yourself:
The Hawks and Highways tour stopped in Hutchinson for a Jayhawk tradition unlike any other. The ninth annual KU Alumni Invitational took place June 25 at Prairie Dunes Country Club.
The annual event brought members of the Presidents Club together to enjoy a round of golf with KU special guests. Chancellor Doug Girod, Bill Self, head men’s basketball coach, and Heath Peterson, president of the KU Alumni Association, all attended.
The foursome of Zach Dyer, Will Moore, Cameron Wilste and Kyle Tucker won the championship flight.
“The alumni invitational at Prairie Dunes is a fantastic event,” said Moore, l’06. “Having the opportunity to play one of the best golf courses in the world with fellow Jayhawks is an unbelievable opportunity. The event is well organized and always a great time. I look forward to playing every year.”
“First, it’s a great venue, a first class golf course,” said John Miles. “My group and I played last year and knew we had to come back. The Alumni Association and the Williams Fund do a great job setting up the event and making everyone who participates feel important.”
Kent Deutsch, Kent Richardson, Tommy Castor, and Chris Ugolini made up the first flight leaders.
The event was presented by Tickets for Less, a partner of the KU Alumni Association. Campus partners includingKansas Athletics the Williams Education Fund, KU Admissions, the School of Social Welfare, and the KU Medical School also attended.
Hawks & Highways is a multi-year effort coordinated by the KU Alumni Association and Kansas Athletics. Tour events feature appearances by KU coaches as well as university administrators and other special guests.
Find out what fellow Jayhawks are up to in our biweekly edition of “In the News.” It’s like an online version of Class Notes.If you’ve seen Jayhawks in the news who should be featured, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Garfield: The Musical With Cattitude” opened Friday night and, even at the matinee show the following day, the actors, including alumna Brianna Woods, gave energized performances that would make you think it was opening night all over again. Read full article.
As one of the first American designers to challenge the boundary between utility and fine art, Wendell Castle creates an enticing breed of objects marked by superior craftsmanship and ingenuity in form, style, and technique. Castle, f’58, g’66, received an honorary degree from KU in 2013. Read full article.
Circuit Judge John Christian Yoder, whose work in law and politics spanned more than 40 years, including two terms in the West Virginia Senate, died Friday as a result of complications from heart surgery. He began a career in government service in his native state of Kansas and graduated from KU School of Law in 1975. Read full article.
NASA was slammed with a record number of astronaut applicants this year and out of more than 183,000 people, only 12 were given that proverbial golden ticket. The deserving dozen includes a Texan and University of Kansas graduate named Loral O’Hara. Read full article.
Peter Mallouk, c’93, b’93, l’97, g’97, an estate planning attorney, started his business with an eye toward servicing medical professionals in suburban Kansas City. Today the company, Creative Planning, is at the vanguard of a profound shift in finance. Read full article.
David Seely, l’82, was elected the new president of the Wichita Bar Association. He joined Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson & Kitch in 1984 and focuses on civil litigation, especially cases involving oil and gas. Read full article.
Philosophy majors spend their college years pondering deep questions, such as: What is the meaning of life? Do we have free will? And what job am I going to get with this degree after graduation? As chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Sheila Bair, c’75, l’78, leaned on her philosophy degree from the University of Kansas to make crucial decisions during the financial crisis. Read full article.
Nikki Glaser’s come a long way from her days as a reluctant college student at the University of Kansas. Eleven years after graduating with an English degree, Glaser’s back in Lawrence, this time as a headliner at the Free State Festival. Read full article.
The first couple to ever say “I do” in the new, upscale Taco Bell Cantina in Las Vegas, in a ceremony on Sunday, happened to be Olathe native Dan Ryckert and his beloved Bianca. Dan is a 2007 graduate of the University of Kansas. Read full article.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation recognized the third class of Woodrow Wilson Georgia Teaching Fellows, which includes KU graduate Justin Fairchild, g’13. Read full article.
Have you heard news about a fellow Jayhawk, or maybe you have news of your own to share? Email us at email@example.com, or fill out our Class Notes form to be included in a future issue of Kansas Alumni magazine. Read more about newsworthy Jayhawks.
The 6th annual Acura College Alumni Team Championship recently awarded two championship trophies to the University of Kansas team. The four-person team, made up of Ken Eland, c’81, Markus Hilger, Cole Nondorf, and Tom O’Keeffe, became just the second team to win two separate divisions, defeating the University of Arkansas in the bracket division final and earning the Gross Division trophy after carding a two-day total of 264.
“We had a great time, with great weather on a great course,” said Eland, adding that “we all played well, and after taking fourth place when we qualified three years ago, we really wanted a victory this year.”
The Acura College Alumni Team Championship was created as a grass-roots championship for Acura, the Preferred Vehicle of Pinehurst Resort, and the 36-hole competition is played on two of Pinehurst’s premier courses including the famed Pinehurst No. 2. The championship field is determined through 60 individual qualifying golf tournaments held at Division I universities across the country. The participating schools come from 13 NCAA Conferences. The winning foursome from each university qualifier advances to the National Championship at Pinehurst. The qualifying tournaments serve as fundraisers for the university alumni or athletic foundations; the KU qualifying tournament is hosted by the KU Alumni Association and was held at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson.
The KU Alumni Association has sent a team to the tournament for the past six years. While previous teams have placed in the top five, this is the first time a Jayhawk team has won the extremely competitive field. Complete scores and brackets are available here.
The annual Smoky Hill Chapter golf tournament was held on May 16 at the Smoky Hill Country Club in Hays. John Jeter, a local chapter volunteer and member of the KU Alumni Association’s Board of Directors, shared his thoughts about this year’s event with us.
What a glorious day in Hays! We had a record crowd for the annual Smoky Hill Chapter golf tourney with more than 120 participants, and the Smoky Hill Country Club course was in beautiful shape. Registration started at 9:30 with tee-off at 11 a.m. We finished in an efficient five hours, with foursomes playing scramble, using their precious Mulligans and vying for team and individual honors.
The day was capped by a pig roast with meat generously provided by Butch Billips, assoc., of America’s Best Steaks. While we expected to hear from legendary former coach Ted Owens, we were also surprised to see none other than head football coach Charlie Weis show up to share his vision of the football program with a delighted audience. Both Coach Owens and Coach Weis were great, and we had plenty of time for questions and socializing with these two special guests.
Coach Owens looks fantastic and remembers every play from every year! He was accompanied by his daughter and brought back so many memories for many in the crowd who attended or watched KU games during his tenure. By the way, he made it clear Jo Jo’s heel never touched the line! Coach Weis was his usual honest, up-front self who “tells it like it is” to the crowd. He enjoyed backing up Coach Owens and clearly felt good about being able to attend at the last minute. He commented that Butch’s pig was the best he’d ever had!
What do we do next year to top this event? We have the same date reserved, and we hope we can lure another big crowd and stellar speakers. As a life-long KU football fan, my vote is to bring Coach Weis back again to bask in the glory of the break-out season we all hope is just around the corner. Thanks to the Alumni Association staff who always do a great job. This was the kick-off for ’Hawk Days of Summer and what a way to kick it off!
—John Jeter, c’77, m’81
Watch the slideshow below to see pictures from the golf tournament, or click here to view the photos on Flickr.
The KU women’s golf team concluded its fall season Oct. 28 with a victory at the Palmetto Intercollegiate on Kiawah Island, S.C., where Jayhawk hospitality helped Coach Erin O’Neil and her team prepare for the tournament.
Following an Oct. 26 practice round on the Turtle Point Golf Course, the Jayhawks enjoyed a team dinner at the home of Russ, c’63, and Ann Brownfield Crane, d’63. The Cranes and KU friends Bob, b’57, and Twila Jackson welcomed the women for a relaxing evening before the first competitive round began Oct. 27. Following two days of competition, Russ Crane called the Alumni Association to report the score: “They won by three strokes–we’re sure it was the lasagna,” he joked.
Ann and Russ Crane flank KU’s golfers in a photo from their dinner Oct. 26. Back row: Head Coach Erin O’Neil, Meghan Potee, Pornvipa Sakdee, Minami Levonowich. Front row: Yupaporn Kawinpakorn, Thanuttra Boonraksasat, Assistant Coach Katy Nahm.
Of course, all credit goes to the team, led by freshman Pornvipa Sakdee, who finished fourth overall. Her teammates all finished in the top 25 as well, a season-best performance for the Jayhawks. The Palmetto title was the team’s second during the fall season.
“I was really proud of how this team came together last weekend,” says assistant coach Katy Nahm. “The team has put themselves in the position to win all fall, and it was great to see them pull through and handle the pressure of leading in the final round.
“We are always very thankful for being Jayhawks, but we were overwhelmed with the support we had this weekend from Russ and Ann. We really enjoyed getting to know them, along with Bob and Twila Jackson. It is great to play a tournament away from Lawrence and have people come out to support and cheer you on. We look forward to seeing them again in the spring at the Briar’s Creek Invitational. We are very blessed to be a part of the Jayhawk family.”
The team will begin spring competition Feb. 14-16 at the Florida State Matchup in Tallahassee.
Many thanks to Jeff Kennedy, j’81, chair of the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors, for working at the tournament and greeting golfers, and to his law firm, Martin, Pringle, Oliver, Wallace & Bauer, L.L.P., for sponsoring the tournament.
Thanks also to Chris Hamman, b’85, and his business, Golf Etc., for sponsoring the tournament and providing hole prizes.
Stay tuned for information about next year’s tournament!
Check out pictures from the tournament in the slideshow below, or click here to see the photos on Flickr. The photos may be downloaded for personal use.
Jayhawks in the Kansas City area spent time on the golf course last Friday at the KC Alumni Jayhawk Open. Thanks to our host, Prairie Highlands Golf Course in Olathe, for helping us to organize such a fun day! It was an extremely hot day– and more than a few people, including Jacey, our alumni programs coordinator, ended up with sunburns– and participants left the event with fun new KU gear from the Taylor Made/adidas concept shop.
Thank you to the sponsors who helped make this event possible!
• Frontier Wealth Management
• Liberty Mutual
• Mitch Benjamin
• Crown Automotive
• Johnny’s Tavern
Click here to see photos from the golf tournament, or watch the slideshow below.
This event is part of ‘Hawk Days of Summer, the KU Alumni Association’s annual summer tour across the state and around the country. Click here to follow ‘Hawk Days online.
KU Alumni Association staff members spend a lot of time on the road, especially during the ‘Hawk Days of Summer. Ever wonder what they do for entertainment during those long hours in the car? Wonder no more.
We’ve documented antics in the car before–check out this video of our esteemed president, Kevin, air-drumming his way across Kansas in 2011– but we stepped it up a notch this year with a dash cam. Typically used to record traffic incidents and positioned to capture what happens outside the car (they’re widespread in Russia), our dash cam is intended to record what happens inside.
Here’s a short story from the road to last week’s Front Range Golf Tournament, along with some beautiful scenery at the Kissing Camels Course at the Garden of the Gods Club in Colorado Springs.
For more photos from the event, click here. Video by Dan Storey.