LAWRENCE — The only thing Fanny Long hates more than golf, jokes husband and Kansas athletic director Jeff Long, is watching the sport on TV.

For one weekend, however, that outlook changed, all thanks to Gary Woodland.

Add it to the growing list of achievements for the Topeka native, former KU standout and newly crowned U.S. Open champion.

“What really struck me is how many people, because of the personal connection with Gary Woodland, tuned in and watched that and cheered for him and rooted for him because they know him in some way, shape or form,” Jeff Long told The Topeka Capital-Journal. “And that knowing him may only be that he’s a Kansas Jayhawk and that he played for the Jayhawks and that he comes back for the basketball games in the winter, but that human connection drew people to that sport of golf on television that otherwise never would’ve tuned in.”

That certainly was the case for Fanny, who like her husband watched every minute of Sunday’s final round despite only brief past interactions with Woodland.

“So all of a sudden, she met him, he’s a Jayhawk, and yeah, she’s excited to watch him play because she knows him. Otherwise she couldn’t care less about watching golf,” Long said with a laugh.

Long was one of several KU figures to comment Monday on the accomplishment from Woodland, who golfed at KU from 2003-07.

Bill Self exchanged texts with Woodland following the latter's victory, and Woodland suggested the two should get drinks together soon.

“And I said, ‘You’re not going to have to buy one for several months,’ which is true,” Self quipped. “He shouldn’t have to buy one for a long time.”

Self labeled Woodland’s triumph — going 13-under at historic Pebble Beach for a three-stroke victory over the surging Brooks Koepka — “one of the coolest things to happen to Kansas athletics.”

“Golf is a sport that all alumni and donors can identify with because everybody at some point in time has played it or hopes to play it and they can play it until they’re 70, 75 years old,” Self continued. “I think everybody is really proud because they can identify with what he does.”

Woodland’s victory — the first major championship for the 35-year-old former Shawnee Heights standout and Topeka Shawnee County Sports Hall of Famer — will serve not only as a boon to his own personal and professional futures, but to the cause of raising money for children with Down syndrome, Self said. Woodland and Special Olympian Amy Bockerstette have been close since they were put together for a practice round at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February, and the pair shared a touching moment over FaceTime on Sunday that went viral online.

Woodland has said he’s drawn inspiration from Bockerstette.

“It’s just a cool story,” Self said of Woodland’s victory. “What makes it so neat is you go from a situation where nobody thought he’d win, and then after they thought he might win it I’m sure the television networks were hoping he didn’t, and then it comes out to be a cooler story than even if Brooks had won, and of course Brooks was obviously fantastic himself. Yeah, it’s really neat.”

Self, who has golfed with Woodland a time or two in the past, didn’t miss a single moment of Friday, Saturday or Sunday’s action — “But don’t tell the (basketball) campers that, or the parents,” he joked.

“I felt like I was actually doing something because I was nervous just like a lot of people were watching it,” Self said, “because when you’ve got that dude (Koepka) chasing you down and he’s on fire, you’ve got to really man up, and he did, no question.”

Also watching Sunday was Jim Marchiony, KU’s associate athletics director of public affairs. As Woodland finished off his victory, Marchiony fired off a tweet that seemed to encapsulate the mood around those within the university’s athletic department.

“I’m not crying,” Marchiony wrote. “You are.”

As he explained Monday, that tweet was not sent in jest.

“This is very cool,” Marchiony said. “Anybody who’s followed his career, it brings tears to your eyes. It really does.”

Marchiony, who will retire next month after a 16-year stint with the university, said Woodland has been a great ambassador for KU.

“He’s often got a Jayhawk on his clothing or his bag or something like that,” Marchiony said. “I think the number of times you hear ‘Rock Chalk’ on the course when he’s golfing gives you an indication of how KU people feel about him. He’s been vocal about his love for KU.”

KU appears eager to show that love back, though exactly when remains to be determined.

“We’ve got a number of ideas, but as you can imagine, his world has just been turned upside down,” Long said. “To be the U.S. Open champion, the endorsements — the pull on his time just went up probably 100-fold. So we certainly will recognize him, want to embrace him and welcome him home, and we’ll look for the right opportunity to do that.”

Long, who is approaching his one-year anniversary as KU’s athletic director, said the opportunities he’s had to speak with Woodland to this point have shown the Topeka native to be a “very humble, very unassuming” individual. The Jayhawk community’s rally around Woodland’s victory has reinforced Long’s belief in building connections between fans and current KU student-athletes, he said.

“He’s just a really, really good person, and you sense that, and it’s reinforced when you talk to him for a few minutes,” Long said of Woodland. “I’m really proud. I’m just beaming today. We don’t know each other well, but gosh, I’m really, really proud of him.”