- Associated Press - Thursday, January 5, 2012

KAPALUA, HAWAII (AP) - Gary Woodland is unlike most players at Kapalua. He is one of the most athletic figures in golf, certainly among the most powerful. And considering that he didn’t start playing serious golf until college, he’s not even close to reaching his potential.

But for someone looking for a little more consistency, his 2012 season begins with significant change.

Woodland decided to hire a new agent, which in turn wound up costing him a coach.

He left Hambric Sports, where he was represented by Blake Smith, and signed a deal with Mark Steinberg at Excel Sports Management. And then longtime coach Randy Smith _ the father of his old agent _ decided to part ways with Woodland.

Woodland starts his new season Friday at the Tournament of Champions, one of 28 winners in the field, and then will have two weeks off to search for a new coach.

“I was lucky to work with Randy for six years. I wouldn’t be where I am without him,” said Woodland, who won his first PGA Tour title last year in the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook. “Things happen. He’s got to do what’s best for him and his family. I’ve got to do what’s best for me.”

And so Woodland moves on, hopeful of showing how good he can become, and that he’s more than just a Kansas kid who can mash it.

His rookie season in 2010 was cut short by a torn labrum in his right shoulder that required surgery. In his first full season, he won his first PGA Tour event, made the cut in every major, and built up even more confidence late in the year when he teamed with Matt Kuchar in the World Cup for the first American victory in a decade.

“I am so far ahead of where I was last year,” Woodland said.

In some respects, he has some catching up to do. Unlike most players who gravitated to golf early in life, Woodland spent his summers in Kansas playing a little golf, a little basketball and a lot of baseball. His father suggested he not spread himself so thin, and coming off a long summer of playing shortstop, Woodland settled on basketball and golf.

And then there was one.

He realized his dream of playing basketball might be a stretch after one season at Division II Washburn, and he returned to a standing offer from the Kansas golf coach to play for the Jayhawks.

Smith recalls the first time he saw Woodland at Kansas.

“Muscle beach,” he said. “Strong kid.”

For Woodland, golf was always about power.

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