We speak to Englishman Chris Wood about a host of topics, from career-defining moments to sports pyschology and modern golf-course architecture
We speak to Englishman Chris Wood about a host of topics, from career-defining moments to sports pyschology and modern golf-course architecture….
If you could change one area of your game for someone else’s on tour, what would it be?
I’d have to say my driving and I’d swap it with Rory McIlroy or Lee Westwood, because they’re probably the two best drivers of the golf ball I’ve played with. It’d be great if I could drive the ball like them because I don’t really feel the rest of my game is too far behind theirs. Driving the ball 330 yards straight down the middle will get it done!
Has driving always been a struggle?
It has, yes. Sometimes I force myself into hitting long irons or fairway woods off tees when I’d love to be able to bomb a driver and flick a wedge into the green. My game is a little bit more conservative because of it, I suppose. I’ve just always struggled a bit with driving. I don’t think it helps that I’m so tall. There’s a lot of levers and a lot more that can go wrong. All I can do is keep working on it and try and get it better each year.
What sport psychology advice have you learned during your career?
I actually read all the Bob Rotella books when I was about 14 or 15. My dad used to get them for me and we’d read one at a time and then swap around. We’d actually highlight little areas in the books we thought were relevant. I don’t think you can go too far wrong with those books. They are real stories and experiences, so you can build them into your own game. I think Rotella is the pinnacle of golf psychology.
What are some of the stand-out events on the European Tour?
We don’t have it this season, but the Wales Open used to be one of my favourites. It was always nice as I could stay at home in Bristol and go home to my mum’s for a cooked dinner every night! Wentworth is always fantastic – playing in the UK with great crowds. But I also really like the events in the Middle East. I don’t know where the tour would be without those. The events in China are hard, because it is so different and a long way from home, but the Middle East swing is great and it kicks the season off really well.
What’s the best route onto the European Tour for a talented young golfer in England?
It’s probably changed from when I got my card in 2009. I’d encourage everyone to try Tour School, but I’d also urge people to be aware of some of the Asian tours, particularly the Asian Tour and the OneAsia Tour. I won the Thailand Open a couple of years ago on the OneAsia Tour and they are great events. It’s not the European Tour, it’s not the PGA Tour, but it’s great experience.
What’s the most valuable playing asset on the European Tour given the diversity of layouts?
Putting would be the obvious one. The best putters are always up there most weeks, despite how they play, probably more so on the PGA Tour because we play different countries and different grasses each week. But I would say that golf nowadays has become more of a big-hitter’s sport, because the courses we’re playing are so long. Even if you’ve got the best short game in the world, you need a strong long game now.
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Is that for better or for worse?
I’d say it’s probably for the worse. It’s so rare that we come across courses that are under 7,000 yards, that are playing firm and fast, where you need to hit long irons off tees and wedges into greens, and the winning score is around eight-under-par. The players prefer that. The Hong Kong Open is a good example of an event on a short course that’s very popular with the players. But modern architects don’t seem to listen. We played a par 3 in China recently that was 250 yards, and most people were hitting 3-woods into the wind to try and get there. That’s no fun.
If you could change the knee injury that thwarted a potential football career, or keep your life as it is, what would you choose?
I’d keep it as it is now, as much as I love my football. I couldn’t wish to be doing anything better than playing golf on the European Tour. Since I damaged my knee about 13 years ago, this is all I’ve wanted to do.
What’s been the highlight of your career?
It’d have to be the 2008 Open Championship, winning the Silver Medal with my dad on the bag. My 6-iron into the last in Qatar in 2013 to set up a winning eagle would run it pretty close – that was pretty special – but I’ll never forget that week at Birkdale. It was amazing.
What is it you like about links golf?
I played a lot of links golf when I was younger. The majority of amateur events are all on links courses and quite a few of them are on Open rota courses, like the Lytham Trophy, the St Andrews Links and the British Amateur. I just took to it. There’s such a variety of shots that you need it just makes things a bit more fun.
Who’s got the best golf swing on the European Tour?
I love the way Robert Rock swings. Jamie Donaldson’s is also great, and he backed that up in the Ryder Cup.
If you could only play in one country going forward, where would it be?
It would be in Dubai. I’ve yet to play night golf, but I think that would be fun with your mates after one or two drinks!