Volvo China Open: Why Wood needs to add a bit of ego to the mix

Chris Wood
England's Chris Wood is searching for a way back to the top 100
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The European Tour might have moved to the other side of the world, but Ralph Ellis will be watching a local hero who is fighting back from some tough times.

"I’ve heard there’s been some serious hard work gone on at his Long Ashton base trying to find some form, including getting the putting area especially cut to help him. Anything up to [7.8] for a Top 20 Finish might be worth a punt."

We all love a top sportsman who doesn't take himself too seriously. In an age of egos, fashion, fast cars and multi-million pound sponsorships there's something rather endearing about the ability to poke some fun at yourself at the same time.

I'm sure, for instance, that Chris Wood's 47,000 Twitter followers enjoyed his reaction to seeing a picture of Peter Crouch teeing off as part of a Golf Monthly item on footballers who love his sport.

All good fun - except I can't help wondering if it was also a bit of a clue about why Wood, now aged 30, has never entirely kicked on in the way many people once thought that he would.

He's one of the few Englishmen competing in this week's Volvo China Open but he's there chasing some sort of revival after a really tough start to the season that's seen him drop out of the world's top 100.

Laid back personality

After missing the cut in his first three tournaments he did finish second in Oman, but a result he thought might get him moving has instead proved a false dawn. He arrives in China after missing the cut again at the Hassan Trophy last week.

Now I have to declare a bit of an interest. Living and working near Bristol, I've followed his progress since he first started to be the subject of gossip in my golf club. Everybody was talking about the kid at Long Ashton who'd had to give up a potential football career at Bristol City because of a knee injury, but had then got down to scratch on the golf course instead. "Lovely lad, too" they all said.

When he finished fifth as the top amateur in the 2008 Open we all knew he'd be a star, and when he followed that up by taking third place at Turnberry a year later we waited for the fireworks.

Now I know there have been three European Tour wins and a few other highlights since, but the truth is that in ten years as a pro he hasn't really lived up to all that early promise.

And it's hard not to think that part of the reason is that easy, laid back personality which makes him so popular around the local courses where he still gives up his time to support the people who helped launch his career.

He can tick the right boxes

He's even admitted himself that confidence is a problem. A couple of years ago he gave an interview to Golf News where he revealed a chat with Thomas Bjorn. "He said that most of my problem is I don't believe I'm as good a player as I actually am, and he was spot on."

Local gossip again but I've heard there's been some serious hard work gone on at his Long Ashton base trying to find some form, including getting the putting area especially cut to help him, and if his last outing might have been a disappointment I'll still be keeping an eye on him in China at the huge price of [130.0]. Anything up to [7.8] for a Top 20 Finish might be worth a punt too.

At his best he's capable of ticking the boxes for driving distance and scrambling that Steve Rawlings picks out in his usual excellent detailed preview -just as Crouchy can still score a few big goals.

So come on Chris, have a little belief in yourself this week. And if you have to flash a bit of ego to do it, then see that as a strength not a weakness.

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