PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland (Reuters) – Americans have won nine of the last 10 major championships and U.S. Open winner Gary Woodland is keen to extend that domination at this week’s British Open.
The non-American to win a recent major was Italian Francesco Molinari at the Open Championship in Carnoustie, Scotland 12 months ago.
“I like that trend, it’s obviously good. The game is in a great spot. You have a lot of young guys, Justin (Thomas), (Jordan) Spieth, all these guys that have won,” Woodland told a news conference on Tuesday.
“But you’ve still got a lot of Europeans and people from all over the world.”
Woodland will play with Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, the 2014 British Open champion, and England’s Paul Casey in the first two rounds at Portrush.
“Rory, obviously this is a huge week for him. So I anticipate there will be some fireworks out there for him this week,” Woodland said.
The 35-year-old is still adjusting to the demands of being a major champion after his maiden triumph at Pebble Beach last month but likes the Portrush course which he described as “spectacular”.
“I think it sets up great for me. I think more than typical Opens that I played, you’ve really got to ball strike it,” Woodland said.
“A big emphasis on controlling the golf ball into the greens. Not a lot of run-ups, you’re going to have to fly it on the greens, which I think sets up pretty good for me. Game is feeling really good. I’m excited for this week.” he added.
The Open is being held at Portrush for the second time — 68 years after the only other occasion the Northern Ireland venue hosted the major.
“The golf course is really, really good. It’s in unbelievable condition. It’s very lush, very green, I would say, compared to last year it was so firm and fast. This one a little softer, I would say, right now,” said Woodland, who is visiting Northern Ireland for the first time.
“The town, went to dinner the other night, it’s very busy, but the weather has obviously been spectacular. The golf course, the views, everything has been very, very nice,” Woodland said.
Woodland used to live near Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open champion.
“I was Graeme McDowell’s neighbour for eight years in Orlando. I heard a lot about it. I hadn’t been over here yet and I’m glad I did, because it’s a beautiful place,” Woodland said.
(Reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)