British Open: Gary Woodland's wife insisted he play Portush even though twins are due soon

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

British Open: Gary Woodland's wife insisted he play Portush even though twins are due soon

2019 British Open

British Open: Gary Woodland's wife insisted he play Portush even though twins are due soon

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PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland – With his wife due to give birth to identical twin girls in two weeks, reigning U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland contemplated not coming to Royal Portrush for the 148th British Open.

Gabby Woodland would have nothing of it.

“We sat down, and we talked about it,” Woodland said Tuesday. The couple also has a 2-year-old son named Jaxson. “And she was the one pushing me to come.”

So while his wife is on bedrest and “hanging in there,” Woodland is preparing to tackle Royal Portrush, a massive links by the North Atlantic Sea. He likes what he has seen since arriving Sunday and after playing two practice rounds.

“The golf course is phenomenal. I think it sets up great for me,” Woodland said. “Game is feeling really good. I’m excited for this week.”

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Woodland is coming off a two-week break following what he termed a whirlwind of activity following his win in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where he held off four-time major winner and world No. 1 Brooks Koepka by three shots. Woodland did a media blitz in New York City in the days immediately following the national championship.

On July 2, his hometown of Topeka, Kansas, threw a block party in its favorite son’s honor and 3,500 people showed up. He also missed the cut in the Rocket Mortgage Classic in the Motor City.

“I wasn’t prepared to play probably in Detroit the week afterwards,” Woodland said. “But I’ve been off three of the four weeks since the U.S. Open. And it was nice to have two weeks off coming into here. Got in a lot of work at home.”

Much of that work at home was on his ball-striking, and he spent extra time hitting the ball a little bit lower, which plays better on a links where the winds and elements can take a toll on one’s ball flight.

Since arriving at Royal Portrush, he’s put in extra work trying to adjust to the greens, which will run much slower than Woodland is used to in the U.S.

“For me it’s getting the speed of the greens down,” he said. “At Pebble, when I was practicing earlier in the week it was more getting a feel for the lines on the greens. This is more speed for me. I’ve struggled putting over here in the past.”

While he hasn’t missed a cut in seven previous starts in the oldest championship in golf, his best finish is a tie for 12th in 2016 at Royal Troon. His tie for 30th in 2011 at Royal St. George’s was his best finish among the other six.

But he’s a major champion this time around. And he’s ranked No. 12 in the world, his highest career mark. And at 35, he’s much wiser with his game.

Woodland is also in line to join some pretty heady company. He could become the first to win the Open double in the same year since Tiger Woods in 2000. The only others to win the U.S. Open and British Open in the same year were Tom Watson (1982), Lee Trevino (1971), Ben Hogan (1953), Gene Sarazen (1932) and Bobby Jones (1930 and 1926).

Woodland won’t put himself in that company just yet. But he’s feeling more confident about his game than ever before. And when he looks at the U.S. Open trophy, which is on his nightstand, he’s reminded he can beat the best in the world.

“It’s been very close to me for the last month,” Woodland said of the trophy. “It’s on the nightstand so I can see it. You want to wake up and make sure it’s not a dream. You want to make sure it’s real. So, I was thinking about letting my parents have it this week, but I ended up keeping it.

“It’s at home. It’s right next to Gabby. She is looking at it all the time. I don’t know if she’s excited about that.”

He was joking about the last part. And he’d like nothing more than to put a Claret Jug right next to the U.S. Open trophy for Gabby and the twins to see.

 

 

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