02 May 2017

Chris Wood hoping for another hot summer

Chris Wood has been on quite a journey since clinching the third – and biggest – title of his career at last year’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. The 29-year-old from Bristol qualified for a maiden Ryder Cup appearance at Hazeltine last September, and having tasted the experience he is keen to make it a habit. Wood now knows what it takes to compete at the highest level and he’s set his sights on a stretch of events this Summer to get back to winning ways after a relatively slow start to his 2017 season. We caught up with Wood after he returned from his third career start in The Masters.

“I’d never seen anything like it,” reflects Wood on his 2017 Masters campaign, where he missed the cut by just one shot after two days of bizarrely gusty conditions.

“You watch The Masters on TV growing up and it’s always so calm and quiet. The gusts were blowing the ball offline on some putts so it was even harder on those greens. To miss the cut by one is disappointing. I don’t think I did a lot wrong and I hit some shots that I wanted to hit and saw the ball react on the greens, so it’s all knowledge that I can store and use, hopefully, next time.”

Wood acknowledges that his 2017 campaign is yet to get up to full steam but he’s hopeful that a return to the scene of his greatest triumph can ignite his season.

“It’s been a strange start to the year,” admits Wood, whose best result so far is a share of 11th at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. “I’ve played well but the results haven’t been there.

“I’ve got into a bit of a routine where my form picks up after the spring because there’s a series big tournaments in succession that I enjoy – starting with the BMW PGA Championship. After that you’ve got the likes of the HNA Open de France, the AAM Scottish Open and The Open. It’s a great little run.

FANTASTIC START

“I sometimes find myself in a bit of a lull after the Middle East Swing. They are three superb weeks in a row – and I usual take a week to tune-up in Dubai before they begin. It’s a fantastic start to the year, but then it’s kind of stop-start a little bit until the European Tour’s mainland events get going in May-June.

“Obviously you’ve got The Masters and the two World Golf Championships events in Spring, but it’s hard to get into a rhythm if you have a week on then a week off, or a week on an then two weeks off before the next one. So I’m looking forward to the summer, starting with the BMW PGA Championship.”

Wood’s win at Wentworth last year was a career-highlight and he’s keen for more success on home soil. “It was amazing to win at Wentworth in front of my friends and family,” he says. “For my other wins in Thailand, Qatar and Austria I was kind of on my own. After the win I was in the airport on my way out of there. That’s the less glamorous side of being a professional golfer that you don’t tend to see! So to win with friends and family around was something I will savour for a long time.

REALLY DETERMINED

“I played really well on the Saturday but only shot 68. I was quite down about my score because I felt it should have been a 64 or 65 and I thought that the tournament had got away from me. I think that had something to do with me coming out on Sunday really determined and playing the front nine in just 29 shots!”

The BMW PGA victory opened several doors to Wood, including an opportunity to get suited up for Darren Clarke’s Ryder Cup team, and he is keen to not let his Hazeltine cameo become a one-off experience.

“I think I proved to myself that I could play at that level and that I belonged,” says Wood of his first Ryder Cup. “I know I only played two matches but I played well under the pressure and won a point alongside Justin Rose.

“The next installment in Paris is on a proper golf course at Le Golf National and I think the Americans might get a shock when they see the way it will be set-up as opposed to Hazeltine which was set-up a bit soft. The whole Ryder Cup is massive and it has made me more determined than ever to get into the team again for next year.”

 

“I think I proved to myself that I could play at that level and that I belonged.” – Chris Wood on his Ryder Cup debut last season

Before qualification begins to earn a spot under captain Thomas Bjorn’s team in Paris, Wood has his sights set on a strong second half of the season and another appearance in the DP World Tour Championship.

“My aim is to finish in the top 20 or top 10 on the Race to Dubai each year and that takes care of qualifying for the event,” he says. “It’s a great tournament and a perfect place to end the season each year.

“I closed with a 65 there last year, which was a nice round to end the Tour’s season so I know I can score well around there. In all honestly, I’m always a little surprised by the scoring. You have to be around the 20-under mark to win, so you’ve got to be aggressive and make birdies.”

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