Gary Woodland was born in Kansas, in the city of Topeka, which translates from the original Siouan as 'a good place to dig potatoes'. It is a recommendation Woodland has long followed.
'I come from Kansas – we're steak and potato boys,' he told Golf magazine. 'I grew up on meat. The look of fish or shellfish, the smell of it, the texture, I can't stand any of it. So I've never had it and I don't ever plan on doing so.'
Leaving aside the issue of where exactly he's been eating dinner on the California coast this last week – Monterey's main drag isn't called Fisherman's Wharf for nothing – Woodland's red-blooded presence reflects a growing trend in American golf. Old-fashioned Jocks. Guys who started off on basketball scholarships or playing baseball and switched, in their college years, to their second sport.
Gary Woodland (pictured) found himself head-to-head with Brooks Koepka at the US Open
Like a Mister Muscle, Justin Rose set out at Pebble Beach on Sunday, sandwiched between two prime hunks of American beef: Woodland and the man who, more than anyone, has made this bovine blueprint work: Brooks Koepka.
The man chasing a fifth major and his third straight US Open is an influencer, the way Arnold Palmer was, the way Tiger Woods was. The new generations are the sons of Tiger in many ways, picking up on his obsession with physical fitness and strength and driving it to new levels. It used to be that the finesse, the softness, of golf was surrendered in the battle to bulk up.
These days trainers are so specialised, their clients so aware, that bodies are tuned to perfection, in all the right areas. Johnny Miller once said he became musclebound and lost his touch after chopping wood to build muscle. Koepke and Woodland can rip it one minute and then feather the ball with subtlety around the greens the next. And as, in Koepke's case, it is bringing phenomenal results, this is becoming the route to follow.
Woodland's background is basketball; Koepke's baseball. His great uncle, Dick Groat, was a legendary short stop with Pittsburgh Pirates, the National League's most valuable player in 1960 and an all-star selection on eight occasions; his father pitched for his college, West Virginia Wesleyan, and passed that enthusiasm onto his son. Koepke junior only took up golf when his involvement in contact sports was curtailed for a summer after fracturing his nose in a car accident.
'If I could do it all again, I'd play baseball, 100 per cent,' said the man currently regarded as the world's greatest golfer. He spits like a baller, too.
Woodland got even closer to his alternate career path. He went to Washburn University in Kansas on a basketball scholarship but