Wood turns pro for shot at big time – and lots of wedge

Money talks as 6ft 5in Bristolian who could have won the Open calls time on his amateur career, writes Tim Glover

Chris Wood was due to make a rare appearance for his club, Long Ashton, in the Bristol and District League last Thursday but instead found himself playing at Wentworth with Darren Clarke and Chubby Chandler. Such is the price of fame.

The occasion was an International Sports Management day and Wood, the amateur sensation at the Open at Royal Birkdale, was being wooed by Chandler, who runs ISM. Having withdrawn from the English Amateur Championship, which starts tomorrow, Wood will turn professional, probably within the next few days.

"I haven't got an agent but I've got several offers to consider," he said. "I'm keen to turn pro. That's why you practise every day. I've got a great opportunity now."

When he drops the asterisk that denotes amateur, Wood will immediately receive invitations to play on the European Tour, such was his impact on the Open. There was a similar story on the same stage in the same championship 10 years ago when Justin Rose, then a 17-year-old amateur, finished in a tie for fourth place and turned professional almost before the cheers had died down. Rose then travelled to the Dutch Open and produced a hook to rival that of the Hook of Holland. It was the first of 21 missed cuts in a row.

The Rose-Wood scenario is different in that the latter, thanks to the efforts of the English Golf Union, has had three more invaluable years of experience. Wood finished joint fifth this year, seven strokes behind the winner, Padraig Harrington, who received £750,000 in prize money, and that is just a downpayment.

"I read in the papers that had I not been an amateur I would have won about £160,000," Wood said. "A lot of my mates said to me: 'Why the hell weren't you playing as a professional?' They're non-golfers. You have to do your apprenticeship. I always knew, even if I won the Open, that I wasn't going to earn a penny."

The scary thing is that as well as he played and scored in the most testing of conditions, the 20-year-old 6ft 5in Bristolian, who was making his debut in the Open having come through qualifying, believes he could have won the Claret Jug rather than the Silver Medal.

"My score could have been a lot better," Wood said. "I holed nothing all week. I hit so many good putts that either shaved the hole or lipped out. I didn't feel under pressure and I put myself in contention but it just didn't go for me." He is already beginning to sound like a pro.

With birdies at the seventh and ninth holes in the final round, Wood went to the turn in 33 and was within a few strokes of the lead, but he came home in 39 as second place went to his playingpartner, Ian Poulter.

"Playing in the Open was the best experience of my life and I'm missing it already," Wood said. "It was so good. During the championship I was so into the golf I didn't really notice anything else. It will help me so much in the future. I felt like I dealt with it quite well." It was the understatement of the championship. Most people expected Wood to disappear from the leaderboard, but in the gales and rain he clung on like a limpet.

"In the earlier rounds I played with a couple of Americans, and being paired with Poulter on the last day was just amazing. He was such a nice guy. When I hit a good shot he'd stick his thumb up. After he'd made his putt on the ninth I had a four-footer for birdie and he said, 'Knock it in, mate'. For a while we were both in contention, and when he made a long putt on the 18th to be the leader in the clubhouse it felt as though we were playing in front of a crowd at a big football stadium. We didn't know that Harrington was going to make an eagle at the 17th."

Wood's brilliant exploits at Birkdale mean that he is exempt for next summer's Open at Turnberry. "I've played there often, I know it very well and I'm already looking forward to it." Had his aggregate been 289 instead of 290, Wood would also have qualified for the Masters at Augusta next year. "That," he said, "was a sickener."

The only one. Last Sunday evening he was driven home by his coach, Paul Mitchell, and they got to Nailsea at 1am. Wood's father, Richard, a four-handicapper who carried the bag at Birkdale, stayed on to play a round at Lytham. "He's turning into a better caddie than aplayer," his son said.

"On Monday morning I was woken by a call at 8am and I didn't get off the phone until 2pm. I was talking to friends, the media, everyone. That night I was in bed by 10pm and I didn't start to unpack my bag until the following morning."

There was no time to walk the family's golden retriever, Olly – that was the job of his mother, Sara – as Wood was reunited with his fitness trainer, Andy Wadsworth. "I think my fitness helped me get through what was a very draining week, mentally and physically."

The Silver Medal, on which is engraved his name and score, lies on a table in the lounge. It was not until Friday evening that Wood had a chance to watch his great adventure on the Lancashire links. A pal had made a recording and invited him round.

Months ago, Long Ashton arranged a testimonial day for Wood on 15 August in which 40 teams of four, playing in a better-ball, were hoping to raise about £8,000 to offset some of the expenses of one of their favourite sons. Wood may not need it now.

Meanwhile, his 22-year-old sister Abi, who is touring Europe, sent him a text message from Prague on the Sunday congratulating him on his achievement. Had she watched it? "No, she's not that bothered. I think my mum told her." After finishing his second round he received a text from Abi which became the quote of the 137th Open: "Are you at that golf thingy?"

It will help to keep Wood's feet on the ground.

Sport
Brazilian fans watch the match for third place between Brazil and Netherlands
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: Dutch pile on the misery in third place playoff
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?