Darren Clarke was right after all – Bristol's Chris Wood does have what it takes to be a European Tour winner.
A closing 12-foot eagle putt gave Wood a thrilling first victory on the circuit at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in Doha. It came two years after he was four strokes clear with a round to play in Majorca but shot 76 and handed the title to stablemate Clarke. "We don't have to worry about him – he will win and it will be sooner rather than later," said Clarke, who two months later became the Open champion.
Wood, who a year earlier had closed with a 76 when leading the PGA Championship, had taken his total of top-10 finishes to 19, including three second places, when he stood on the final tee in Doha yesterday one behind Sergio Garcia and George Coetzee. Having led by three at the start of the day, he was in danger of suffering more disappointment. Instead, he hit a 300-yard drive into perfect position, a towering six-iron over water to 12 feet and, after looking at the leader board for the first time all day, sank the putt.
"It feels amazing, a dream come true," said the 25-year-old, who came fifth in the 2008 Open as an amateur and then a year later missed out on the play-off between Tom Watson and Stewart Cink at Turnberry only by bogeying the final hole. "I've been knocking on the door a few times and it's not happened. Winning on the European Tour is not easy. Now there's an enormous weight off my shoulders and I feel I can go on and win more. You don't get many chances in a play-off, so I knew that was my chance – and I took it."
Although he won the Thailand Open in August last year, this was on an entirely different level with two of the world's top five – Justin Rose and Louis Oosthuizen – and a host of Ryder Cup players and major winners in the field. "I probably went to sleep about midnight and woke up probably three, four, five, six times. I knew I was having a lot of support from all of the text messages – a couple of them woke me up at one o'clock in the morning!" he said.
Wood and Garcia now move on to Dubai for the last leg of the Tour's three-week Desert Swing. Lee Westwood will play his first tournament of the year there.
Tiger Woods held a commanding lead heading into the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open in La Jolla, California, last night.
The American former world No 1 completed his third round in 69 to sit 14 under par for the tournament, four shots ahead of Canada's Brad Fritsch, who went round in 70.
Brandt Snedeker had joined Fritsch on 10 under overall after going through the first six holes of his final round in three under.
England's Ross Fisher was the highest-placed European in the field on six under par.