Sony Open in Hawaii - Preview Day Two
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Gary Woodland returns to the PGA Tour at the Sony Open in Hawaii this week, a miraculous comeback considering the four-time Tour winner underwent brain surgery for a tumor in September. In anticipation of his return to competition, Woodland detailed his journey, including the fact that fear and anxiety around death he was experiencing in 2023 led to his doctor ordering the MRI that ultimately discovered the tumor. 

"I got an MRI that night and came back with a lesion," said Woodland this week. "Looked like a tumor on my brain. Started going through more testing, more MRIs, and they got me to a specialist in Kansas City who explained everything to a T. The jolting and everything I was experiencing at night was partial seizures. The lesion in my brain sat on the part of my brain that controls fear and anxiety. He's like, 'You're not going crazy. Everything you're experiencing is common and normal for where this thing is sitting in your brain.'"

Woodland went down the path of anxiety seizure medicine, he explained, and the seizures eventually stopped. But the fear returned, and his doctor recommended going in to try and remove as much of the lesion as possible.

"Biopsy, it's too risky where it was in the brain," said Woodland. "He didn't want to go in any more than he had to. So surgery and removal was the next step. They couldn't get it all out from where is it was located. It was benign. If it was cancerous, they would've removed it all. It's up against my optic tract. They removed as much as they could and believe they cut off the blood circulation to what's left."

Woodland said he walked out of the hospital two days after surgery and the seizures have disappeared since. He started putting as soon as he got home and swinging in the middle of October. As it relates to this week's tournament, Woodland says he has all the shots he needs, it's just a matter of whether he can mentally focus for a week straight.

A lot comes with something like this. Woodland said he has been changed by the entire experience.

"One, I realize there is a lot of good in this world," he said. "The love and support I've had has been unbelievable. Even being back this week, seeing the guys, haven't seen many guys. It's been overwhelming how good it's been.

"I learned a lot about myself. Usually people ask me for help and I'm not asking. I'm very fortunate and probably lucky why I'm sitting here being able to play this week that I asked for help.

"... So, I can't do it all on my own. I need the right people around me. I'm fortunate I had the people around me willing to help and the right people to get me in the right places. It's definitely helped me."

He also spoke of this being a jumpstart to his career. The 39-year-old Woodland has not won worldwide since taking the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, though his play has remained solid albeit at a slightly lower tier than he was at in 2019-20.

Most of all, he's grateful.

"Obviously, the Tour was amazing from Jay all the way down, people reaching out, sending stuff to the house," he said. "People taking care of my family and kids. The messages my wife has received -- it was hard, because in the start we didn't tell anybody, like I said, so my team and family now and that was it.

"So when we announced I was going to have surgery, we announced it so much later, four months after we had found out. And people started going through the same emotions we were going through when we found out. It was hard, but the love and support of people reaching out, I mean, left and right, people outside the golf world, people in outside arenas, people that I hadn't spoken to a lot, didn't know very well.

"Not only just saying we're thinking about you and praying for you, literally continuing to check in and ask if I need anything. What does your family need? My team has been tremendous. It's been nice to know we're not alone in this journey."