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Wood win was overdue

By Neville Leck Last updated: 28th January 2013

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Chris Wood - victory at last!

Chris Wood - victory at last!

Chris Wood's win in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters at the weekend was a big first for him, but you can hardly call it a surprise.

From the time he turned professional four years ago, the lanky. 25-year-old Bristol-born Englishman has been something of a stand-out on the European Tour - and not only because at 6ft 5in he matches Swede Robert Karlsson as the Tour's tallest competitor

More so it is because he won the Rookie of the Year award on the European Tour in 2009 when he rocked the golfing world by cooly taking on the game's very best at the 139th Open Championship at Turnberry and finishing in a hugely creditable tie for third that saw him miss-out on the play-off by only one shot.

And this was hardly his first performance of note at The Open.

A year earlier Wood, though still an amateur, beat most of the game's big guns when he finished fifth overall and took away the Silver Medal.

But even this, impressive as it may be, is not the only reason golf's most knowledgeable pundits have been keeping an eye on him ever since.

It's also because his march into professional prominence didn't end there.

He has made sure of that by regularly appearing on European Tour Top 10 leaderboards and has finished second three times after getting within a whisker of winning.

On the first occasion it was at the Africa Open in 2011 where he matched 2010 Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen's winning score, but was edged out in the play-off.

He finished second again at the Iberdrola Open in 2011 and then, last year, picked up his third runner-up finish at the 2012 Sicilian Open, where a sizzling 64 in the final round left him just one shot short of Thorbjørn Olesen's winning total.

This week, however, he became the first Englishman to win the Qatar Masters and only the second man to win the Qatar Masters via an eagle three on the final hole of regulation play, following in the footsteps of Retief Goosen in 2007. Wood won't only be laughing all the way to the bank where he'll have a personal best prize of €310,917 to deposit, he'll also be celebrating the fact that he has guaranteed himself a place in the prestigious 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, the 2013 WGC-HSBC Champions and 2014 Volvo Golf Champions events and has also earned himself a two-year Tour exemption.

He still has some more work to do before he can break into the all-important Top-50 World Ranking bubble that would make him an automatic qualifier for all four majors, but in rocketing from number 146 into the Top 60s in the rankings this week, he has taken a major step in that direction.

He has also moved into the top echelon in the 2013 Race to Dubai money hunt, his €314,598 putting him in fourth place behind other early-season winners Scott Jamieson, Jamie Donaldson, and Louis Oosthuizen and just ahead of Charl Schwartzel, the other Tour winner so far this season.

With Sunday's victory, Wood joins the exclusive club of 87 Englishmen who have between them won 278 European Tour titles.

The Bristol native's win will also help England maintain its distinguished record of being the only country to have won a title in each and every European Tour season.

His big breakthrough is also likely to boost his confidence levels to new heights and to give rise to the belief that if he can win once, he can come back and win again and again.

Expect to see him back in the near future for if there has been anything at all surprising about him, it might just be that it took him a 116 Tour starts to finally clinch that first victory.

Neville Leck



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