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Chris Wood takes an early advantage

Chris Wood became the second player to bounce back from disappointment in the European Tour’s PGA flagship event when he took the lead in the Wales Open first round on Thursday.

Wood, 22, led the Wentworth tournament going into the final round before slipping to sixth place. On Thursday at Celtic Manor, the venue for October’s Ryder Cup, he responded by recording a flawless six-under-par 65 to lead the field by a stroke.

The young Englishman will now hope to emulate the feat of Luke Donald who gained redemption for losing the PGA event at the penultimate hole of the week at Wentworth by turning straight round and clinching last week’s Madrid Masters title.

After losing his way in the PGA Championship, an exhausted Wood skipped U.S. Open qualifying the next day and also the Madrid tournament.

Having “recharged my batteries” he went out and equalled the Twenty Ten course record with six birdies.

“I learned a lot from Wentworth,” Wood told reporters, “like having to deal with the pressure. I’ve never had that. Even though it didn’t work out it is certainly going to help me the next time it happens.”

Wood’s blistering round on the course where Europe take on the United States in October would have been noticed by Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie. However, Wood, has work to do to get into contention for a Cup debut as he is currently lying 35th on Europe’s table with only the top nine qualifying automatically.

Third, fifth and sixth places in his last three events for the player who finished third in last year’s British Open show Wood could force his way into Ryder Cup reckoning.

“I know my game is capable enough of playing that sort of level but obviously I need to play some really good golf over the latter part of the year,” added Wood.

Wood, who at 1.96 metres is the joint tallest player on the European Tour with Swede Robert Karlsson, heads local favourite Bradley Dredge of Wales and Australian Andrew Dodt by a shot. Last week’s runner-up in Madrid, Rhys Davies, another Welshman, is a further stroke back. Montgomerie posted a 70.

Montgomerie played with long-hitting Alvaro Quiros, a player who the captain is tipping to make his team, and the Spaniard laced his round of 71 with a hole in one at the 189-yard third.

Donald, now in an automatic top-nine Ryder Cup place, struggled to a 75 and is in danger of missing the cut.



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