Gary Woodland Is Back At Augusta National; So Is Greg Norman

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Gary Woodland is back at Augusta National this week, feeling perhaps more grateful to be at the Masters than anyone.

A mere seven months ago, the former U.S. Open champion was undergoing brain surgery after a tumor was discovered. The 39-year-old from Kansas had been experiencing symptoms for months, yet he continued to play through the summer, even as the symptoms and subsequent medications left him wracked with anxiety and paranoia.

In August, doctors drilled a baseball-sized hole in the side of Woodland’s skull. They removed as much of the tumor possible, though they couldn’t get it all, but deemed the procedure a success. The tumor was found to be benign.

Woodland returned at the Sony Open in January. And even though he has missed five of eight cuts, he believes he is finding his form. Woodland shot three rounds in the 60s and tied for 21st a couple of weeks ago at the Houston Open.

“The reception has been amazing,” he said. “For so long I wasn’t saying anything, and so nobody knew. That was the hard part, putting on a smile and acting like everything is OK. It shows that people care. We’re a big family out here, at the end of the day. We’re all out here trying to win, but we’re all here to support each other as well, and I’ve definitely felt that.”

He certainly felt it during the Par 3 Contest on Wednesday. Woodland elicited a roar when he aced the sixth hole.


Among the more notable faces in the crowd Wednesday at the Masters was none other than Greg Norman.

The Washington Post spotted Norman, the CEO and commissioner of Saudi-funded LIV Golf, following his players along the first fairway during the final day of practice. The Post said he entered through the main gates with a ticket along with LIV executives.

“Walking around here today, there’s not one person who said to me, ‘Why did you do LIV?’” Norman told The Post. “There’s been hundreds of people, even security guys, stopping me, saying, ‘Hey, what you’re doing is fantastic.’ To me, that tells you that what we have and the platform fits within the ecosystem, and it’s good for the game of golf.”

Norman had not been to the Masters since he was a radio analyst for SiriusXM radio in 2021. Major champions typically get noncompeting invitations, but The Shark was not extended one last year because Masters Chairman Fred Ridley said he wanted the focus to be on the tournament.

“I’m here because we have 13 players that won 10 Masters between them,” Norman said. “So I’m here just to support them, do the best I can to show them, ‘Hey, you know, the boss is here rooting for you.’”