Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Woodland Draws Marquee Pairing

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Woodland Draws Marquee Pairing

Article excerpt

Fresh off his first major championship, Gary Woodland should get some major airtime in this week's British Open.

Woodland, who captured the 119th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach last month, will be in a marquee group for the first two rounds of this week's 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland. Woodland will tee off at 4:09 a.m. Topeka time on Thursday paired alongside World No. 3 Rory McIlroy and Paul Casey.

The same threesome will go off at 9:10 a.m. Topeka time on Friday.

McIlroy is an Irishman who set the course record at Royal Portrush before its renovation for this year's Open Championship, shooting a 61 there when he was 16 years old. He'll be playing in his home country in the Open for the first time with the tournament returning to Royal Portrush for the first time since 1951.

Woodland is playing in just his second tournament since becoming golf's latest first-time major champion, holding off Brooks Koepka for the U.S. Open title in mid-June. The victory vaulted Woodland to No. 12 in the World Rankings.

He struggled at the start of his only tournament since that win, missing the cut at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit in late June after posting an opening-round 73.

Woodland has played in the Open Championship seven times and has made the cut each time. He has posted four top-40 finishes at the tourney with his best showing a tie for 12th at the 2016 Open Championship at Royal Troon Golf Club in Scotland.

Like most of the field for this year's Open, Woodland has never played Royal Portrush. But he is eager to get to know the layout, arriving late last week to get in work before the demands he will face as the reigning U.S. Open champion.

"That definitely helps," Woodland said of the unfamiliarity of the course for the bulk of the field. "(Swing coach) Pete Cowen has been there and I'll rely on him. …

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