Chris Wood looks to Darren Clarke

Chris Wood inevitable decision to turn professional has taken a new turn as Ryder Cup hero Darren Clarke has taken a deep underlying personal interest in the Bristol whizz kid.

The 21 year old finished an astonishing fifth in this year’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale and he seems to be the latest crop of European youngsters to grace the game in recent time.

Many similarities have been apparent with Justin Rose. Rose has taken around nine years to establish himself amongst the highest elite of golf after famously finishing fourth in the Open as an amateur.  And with Chris Wood finishing fifth ten years later, he would be hoping that he could emulate the success Rose has endured throughout his career.

Justin Rose began well in the European Tour before taking the plunge into the US Tour as his form suffered considerably. Rose, now aged 28, has redeveloped his game to push on as a professional golfer and now he looks an accomplished player.

Chris Wood’s career has began well as he managed another top ten finish at the Portuguese Masters and has starts to strengthen his credibility amongst his peers.

Darren Clarke will be able to give pointers on how to handle pressure and how to play consistently well, especially on the difficult courses. The veteran is still popular throughout the golfing circuit and Wood’s sheer awareness on getting the Irishman on side gives clear indication that his head is in the right place.

It is important that Chris Wood has a figurehead to look up to and the mere fact that he is willing to learn is a sign of a true sportsman, and he has managed to keep his feet firmly on the ground.

Wood has to go through the motion that any newly turned professional has to do, as his ambition now is to achieve his European Tour Card for 2009 and battle with the elite. In terms of european golf betting in 2009 though – keep an eye out for this man.

Chris Wood turns professional

After his fabulous performance in the British Open at Royal Birkdale where he finished joint fifth, 20-year-old British golfer Chris Wood has signed professional terms with the International Sports Management group. He will now receive invitations for the European Tour and will not have to qualify for next years’ British Open.

Considering not many people had heard of Chris Wood before his impressive display at Royal Birkdale, this is a dream come true for him. He has already said that the tournament was ‘the best week of my life’ an on turning professional he believes that he can have an ‘exciting and successful future in the professional ranks’.

There are certainly worse futures than travelling the world as a professional golfer and Chris Wood is understandably over the moon with this latest twist in his short golfing career.

Chris Wood did have the option to stay as an amateur for another year, but after discussing his options with the likes of Darren Clarke, he decided that he would be better suited to a year of professional golf on the European tour. I have to say I think this is the right choice. He is much more likely to improve as a golfer playing with and against the best players in the world.

Then of course there is the financial benefit – Chris Wood could make a living for himself now he has turned pro, something he couldn’t have done if he didn’t make the step up from amateur golf.

One thing Chris Wood does need to realise – and I’m sure he does – is that this is where the hard work starts. He may feel like he has made it now, but he is going to have to consistently put in strong performances to succeed on the European tour. At just 20-years-old, this will not be easy – he still has a lot to learn.

Justin Rose will vouch for this as after he finished joint fourth in the British Open, aged 17, he went on to miss 21 cuts in a row. I’m not saying that Chris Wood will suffer similarly, but he must be wary of the fact that he is playing at a much, much higher level now – it’s time to mix it with the big boys for the Bristolian.

The next few months are important for him, if he can get through them without suffering a Justin Rose style bad run, then many golf bets will be placed on him winning a major before long. This may seem like I am getting ahead of myself, but his performance in the British Open was the best from an English amateur in ten years and there is no doubt he has talent. Now it’s time to show this talent on a regular basis at the highest level.