Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wood caps his First Pro Year

England’s Chris Wood has capped a tremendous debut season on The European Tour by being named the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year for 2009. Bristol-born Wood, 22 tomorrow (Thursday), who at 6ft 5in (196cms) stands alongside Swede Robert Karlsson as the tallest golfer on Tour, also enjoyed the highest finish of a talented group of contenders for the award in the inaugural Race to Dubai. By taking 44th place with earnings of €679,559, Wood secured the title ahead of Northern Ireland’s Gareth Maybin, who was 53rd in The Race to Dubai, England’s Danny Willett (58th) Sweden’s Oskar Henningsson, who was 68th and also claimed his maiden Tour title in the Czech Republic and another Englishman, David Horsey, who ended his first season in 76th place. However it was Wood’s remarkable performance in The 138th Open Championship which effectively sealed the Award, which is judged by The R&A, the Association of Golf Writers and The European Tour. A year after finishing tied fifth at Royal Birkdale as an amateur, Wood went even better at Turnberry in July, missing out on a play-off by only one shot as he finished alongside eventual Race to Dubai champion, Lee Westwood, in third place. That mature performance was one of five top ten finishes for Wood during his rookie season, while his liking for events with the word ‘Open’ saw him tie for fifth in The European Open and tie for sixth in the South African Open. He was also top scorer in the Vivendi Trophy with Seve Ballesteros, claiming 4 ½ points out of a possible five. Wood, who has climbed to 71st in the Official World Golf Ranking, is the 21st English golfer to win the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award since its inception in 1960, when his fellow countryman Tommy Goodwin became the inaugural winner. He succeeds Pablo Larrazabal of Spain, who follows in a long and illustrious list of players who have graduated to great things after winning rookie honours, namely Tony Jacklin, Bernard Gallacher, Sam Torrance, Sir Nick Faldo, Sandy Lyle, José Maria Olazábal, Colin Montgomerie and Sergio Garcia. Wood admitted: “It is brilliant to win this award. Looking at the list of names who have won this title makes me appreciate that I am in good company, alongside people like Sir Nick Faldo, who is probably the greatest English golfer to play the game. It’s great to see my name on the same list as Sir Nick and some of the more recent winners like Paul Casey, Nick Dougherty and Ian Poulter. “I’ve had my eyes on winning the rookie crown all season, because it’s something you only ever get one chance to win. Fortunately I’ve been lucky enough to do it thanks to some good results like The Open and some pretty consistent finishes.”
Wood added: “I feel I’ve been able to step into the professional ranks quite easily. The experiences of Birkdale and Turnberry have helped and also getting my card at the Tour School at PGA Golf de Catalunya. Now I am closing in on the top 50 in the world and that must be a big goal in 2010. It opens a lot of doors to the Majors and the other top events where the best players are playing. “Look at Martin Kaymer. He was Rookie of the Year two years ago and has just finished third in The Race to Dubai and must be a contender for the next Ryder Cup. That’s where I want to see myself in a few years time.”

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