Yesterday was the opening ceremony of the Ryder Cup in Kentucky, but you’d never have known it at the First Stage Q School tournament. The minds of the players scrapping to take a step closer to a European Tour Card stayed focused on The Oxfordshire golf course rather than wondering about Nick Faldo’s boys.

It was another calm, windless day – the third in a row – which allowed some fantastic scoring with 64 from young Zimbabwean Michael Curtis being the best. But the leaders were already well in front of the African and they were headed by Bristol’s finest, Chris Wood, the Open Championship silver medallist, who shot a stunning 66 to finish the day 15 under and two ahead of the field.

“I’m enjoying it out there and the pressure is off me now. I need a lot more experience of tournaments like this, but I’m starting to feel a lot more at home,” Wood said. “I played nicely today and only missed two greens in regulation. It’s good to hit a bit of form with some big tournaments coming up.”

Wood is now certain to be one of the 30 players to qualify from The Oxfordshire for Second Stage of Q School in Spain in November and he will need to progress from there to Final Stage also in November before he can pocket a Tour Card for the 2009 season.

A confident Wood said: “Anyone coming out of the English amateur team should make it through this week, but I’ve got to be patient tomorrow. I really want to win it now because a win anywhere gives you confidence.”

Wood is one of only three players to shoot all their rounds so far in the 60s and will bank £1,500 for first prize if he maintains his lead after day four.

But this strapping young man is so good that he can probably spend most of tomorrow contemplating the British Masters next week at The Belfry and still win.

The Belfry will be the first of his final three end-of-season European Tour venues this year. Just one top three finish in any of his last three tournaments might well give Wood a Tour Card via the European Tour Order of Merit which would allow him to avoid the rest of the Q School torture.

Meanwhile, in Italy at the Bogogno First Stage event, two Italians are leading; Nicola Maestroni is on 13 under and Andrea Perrino is one shot behind. Over in France at Moliets, Jesus Maria Arruti (the Spaniard making his 19th straight appearance at Q School) was disappointing with a 74 to drop to down to tied 7th, although he is still easily inside the top 30 who will go forward to Second Stage. The leader in France is – to complete the set of home leaders – is Frenchman Adrien Mork on 14 under.

Only one more day of Q School First Stage 2008 – only 10 more rounds to go!

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