Twenty-year-old Wood – who left the amateur golfing ranks only at the end of July – leads the 132-man field at The Oxfordshire Golf Club, one of six First Stage Q School venues staging tournaments this month. Also on 65 are Somerset’s Steven Ritchie from Farrington Golf Club and Jamie Elson from Surrey.

“I feel like the best player here and I know I should qualify,” he says. “There’s obviously a bit of pressure, but I didn’t feel it today because I’m more than capable of qualifying even without my ‘A’ game. A 65 is a massive help to that.”

A top 30 finish after four rounds will be enough to move Wood to Second Stage of Q School which takes place in Spain in November; but he must also then progress from there to Final Stage and finish in the top 30 before he secures a European Tour Card for 2009. The Tour Card will allow him to play most of the big money events on the European golfing calendar next year.

Today, Wood was intent on getting off to a solid start at the 7,300yd Oxfordshire course where the weather was unusually calm. “It’s a pretty straightforward course; it’s about placing because there’s no run on the ball. My game’s suited to links golf, but the fairways are nice and wide here. I putted well and didn’t drop a shot.

Wood will have to play a total of 14 Q School rounds if he is to secure his Tour Card this autumn, but his other chance of being a Tour regular next season is by finishing in the top 115 in the European Tour money list. However, he is currently 239th on the list and can only play another three events.

The Open silver medallist also has another incentive to do well at The Oxfordshire because his close friend and fellow newly-minted pro Danny Willett from Yorkshire won his Q School First Stage tournament in Germany last week.

“I’d like to equal his achievement at least,” says Wood who would take home £1,5000 for a win this week before playing in next week’s British Masters at The Belfry.

Click on the link for more on Ross’ book Golf On The Edge: Triumphs & Tragedies Of Q School