Chris Wood is twenty-three years of age and already has two top-five finishes in major championships. For a few frenetic minutes during the final round of the 2009 Open Championship, it even looked like the Claret Jug could find itself in his grasp by tournament’s end. His willowy six-foot, five-inch frame was, for the second Open in a row, defying the principles of aerodynamics, leaving him with a string of birdie opportunities where others, Harrington aside, were struggling to make pars.
The result was a tie for third place and stardom appeared to be beckoning.
The Golfing Gods had other plans, however. And while Wood’s career hasn’t exactly nosedived since– he’s earned well over €600,000 (I’m no economist, but that’s got to be, what, about $3billion?) in each of his last two seasons– that finish at the 2009 Open remains his most lucrative professional result.
On the occasions that the Englishman has found himself in contention since, he’s generally struggled to mount a sustained challenge, with his shortgame, particularly his slightly ungainly putting action, proving a tough fragile for the rarefied atmosphere of the final groups.
After three impressive rounds at this week’s Iberdrola Open in Mallorca, though, Wood finds himself four shots clear of the the chasing pack and within touching distance of his breakthrough European Tour victory. Should he succeed, we could be looking at the (slightly overdue) arrival of another precocious European talent.