TURNBERRY // Chris Wood, barely a twinkle in his father's eye when Tom Watson won the last of five Open titles in 1983, could empathise with the great man after seeing his own powerful hopes of lifting the Claret Jug dashed by a stroke of misfortune at the concluding 72nd hole. If Wood, 21, could have sent a message out to Watson, playing a few holes behind him, he would surely have urged the five-time champion to ease back on his downwind approach shot to the demanding 461-yard par four finale to Turnberry's Ailsa links.
"I've never hit a nine iron 210 yards in my life," said Wood, who watched in anguish as his ball - like Watson's would later - arrowed into the green only to fall down the slippery slope at the rear to make a recovery mission tricky. The ensuing missed par putt cost Wood dear, who as an amateur had thrilled Open galleries at Royal Birkdale 12 months previously by pushing the Irishman Padraig Harrington all the way for the title, a place alongside Watson and the eventual champion Stewart Cink in the four-hole play-off.
"Maybe it was a bit of adrenaline but that ball went miles," lamented Wood, who made a commendable effort to shrug off his bitter disappointment by then going on to remark: "It's weird to say I'm only 21 and I've contended in two majors already. "The experiences I've got out of the Open are going to be amazing for my career. I'm just going to move on and move on every year." The place Wood occupied at the presentation ceremony a year ago was taken at Turnberry by the outstanding young Italian Matteo Manassero, who took the Silver Medal for leading amateur at the event by finishing four shots off the pace with an impressive aggregate score of 282.
It was a splendid double for the 16-year-old, who also captured the prestigious Amateur Championship at Formby, near Southport.