PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – It's no secret that Gary Woodland's first love was basketball, not golf.
Growing up in Kansas, Woodland was part of two high school championship teams at Shawnee Heights High School. He ended up attending Washburn University through a scholarship in basketball.
But things changed early in his first year, and he ended up concentrating entirely on golf after trying to protect the future NBA first-round pick, Kirk Hinrich, in his very first game.
"The moment has really been imposed on me. "I've always thought that if basketball did not work, I could fall back on golf," Woodland said. "Our first game against Kansas at the University of Kansas, ranked No. 2 in Division II and this decision was imposed on me very quickly.
"I kept Kirk Hinrich and I have to find something else, because it's not going to work. And it was my first match at the university. I was twice a state champion, all states, blah, blah, blah, but it was a different level. "
While Hinrich had a 13-year career in the NBA, Woodland transferred to Kansas his second year to play in the golf team.
And now, he's here, having dethroned American champion Brooks Koepka at Pebble Beach.
"I just always believe in myself. No matter what I've done, since I was little, I've always thought that I would succeed, "Woodland said. I thought I could do some professional sports. I've always thought I would be in this moment. And the question of whether I ever dreamed of doing the last hole putt of an American Open when I was a child, no, I did not do it. But I had a lot of winning shots on the basketball court when I was a kid. And that's what I did. I've always believed in myself.