'I Spent Every Day Really Thinking I Was Going To Die'

Gary Woodland last featured on the PGA Tour two weeks after The Open in Liverpool. At the Wyndham Championship he finished inside the top 30, the following month he had brain surgery.

During the op the doctors cut a hole in the side of his skull the size of a basketball which required 30 staples to close. There was a risk of the former US Open champion losing sight in his left side and the use of his left side but the tumour was benign and the surgery was deemed a success.

What was even more alarming was how the 39-year-old described the build-up to the surgery and what he was going through as he continued to play on. While at the Mexico Open a few weeks after Augusta Woodland would be woken from his sleep by fears, chills and tremors in his hands.

He asked for something to calm the anxiety but was sent for an MRI to rule out Parkinson's, which it did, but it did show up a lesion on his brain on a tract that caused fear.

Incredibly Woodland played 10 further tournaments, eight of them on medication, and he only missed two cuts.

"That was the one that scared me the most," Woodland said this week at the Sony Open. "I'm a very optimistic person. I believe good things will happen. I was very fear-driven every day, mostly around death.

"The lesion in my brain sat on the part that controls fear and anxiety. [The specialist] is like, 'You're not going crazy. Everything you're experiencing is common and normal for where this thing is sitting in your brain.'

"The support from the tour, from people outside the golf world, has been tremendous for me and my family. When I woke up and realised I was OK, I was filled with thankfulness and love. That replaced the fear."

Woodland has always been one of the good guys and his openness around his last few months has been incredible.

"It was very emotional because I had gone four and a half months of every day really thinking I was going to die. The doctors kept telling me I was OK, but this thing pushing on my brain – it didn't matter if I was driving a car, on an airplane, I thought everything was going to kill me. You can imagine leading up to surgery how I felt going into having my head cut open and operated on. The fear going into that was awful."

The recovery has understandably been a long one but he has managed to convert his dining room into a putting green and he was back putting two days after the op. Five weeks later he was back swinging a club and now this week he's in the field in Hawaii.

If anyone deserves a break in 2024 then it's Woodland.