US Open: A profile of Pebble Beach champion, Gary Woodland
By Keith Moore
Last Updated: 17/06/19 10:20pm
Gary Woodland saw off challenges from defending champion Brooks Koepka and 2013 winner Justin Rose on the final day of the US Open to claim his first major.
The American was a relative unknown before his impressive three-shot victory at Pebble Beach, so where did he come from? We take a look at the path that led to him winning the 119th US Open Championship…
Almost lost to golf
Born in Topeka, Kansas, Woodland played golf as a teenager but found more success on the basketball court, named an all-star in high school following his school's back-to-back state titles.
Inevitably there were basketball scholarships on offer from several universities, with only one offering a golf scholarship: the University of Kansas. In the end, Woodland opted to enrol at Washburn University, who gave him a dual scholarship for both sports.
However, Woodland's golf suffered in his first year due to his basketball commitments, and after realising a career in the NBA was likely out of reach, he approached the University of Kansas who told him their original scholarship offer still stood.
Get the best prices and book a round at one of 1,700 courses across the UK & Ireland
Woodland made the decision to switch to Kansas for his second year, putting basketball behind him and placing his full focus on golf.
After graduating from university, the now 35-year-old turned professional in 2007, going on the Nationwide Tour for two years.
He finished tied for 11th in the Qualifying School for the PGA Tour at the end of the 2008 season, earning himself a card to play among the game's elite in 2009.
But Woodland then missed most of the 2010 season due to a shoulder injury, and again had to endure the Qualifying School and, in a case of deja vu, he finished tied 11th once again to retain his Tour card.
In 2011 he had established himself on Tour and was chosen to represent the United States along with partner Matt Kuchar at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup.
The duo carded a five-under 67 in the final round to come from behind and win the title, beating England's Ian Poulter and Rose, among other pairings, in the process.
PGA Tour success
Woodland also claimed the first of his four PGA Tour victories in 2011. He shot 15 under at the Transitions Championship - now known as the Valspar Championship - in Tampa to beat compatriot Webb Simpson by a single shot after he missed a par putt on the final hole.
In 2013, Woodland won the Reno-Tahoe Open with breathing room thanks in part to a modified Stableford scoring system that suited his big-hitting, aggressive style of play.
Last year he collected his third win when he edged out Chez Reavie at the first hole of a play-off to win the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Going into this year's US Open, Woodland had amassed career earnings just over $23m.
Prior to winning the US Open trophy, Woodland's best finish in a major was tied for sixth place, which he achieved in last year's PGA Championship at Bellerive.
His best previous finish in the US Open was a tie for 23rd place at Congressional in 2011, and in the same year he finished tied for 24th in what remains his best performance at the Masters.
In 2016 he finished one under in the Open Championship at Royal Troon for a share of 12th place, the closest he has been to the Claret Jug.
However, his fortunes in the majors all changed at Pebble Beach on Sunday, when he capped his composed, final-round 69 with a 30-foot putt for birdie which left him three clear of Koepka.