Monday, July 28, 2008


Chris Wood, the towering 20-year-old amateur from Bristol who finished a brilliant joint fifth at The Open eight days ago, has turned professional.

Wood has signed for the International Sports Management group and becomes a stablemate of Ernie Els, Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley and David Howell - and also last year's Open silver medal winner Rory McIlroy.

After taking a week to consider his future, the 6ft 5in Wood said: "Royal Birkdale was the best week of my life and now I am looking forward to an equally exciting and successful future in the professional ranks.

"If I was going to play amateur golf for another year, I'm not sure that at the end of it I would be in a better position than I am now.

"I played with Darren Clarke yesterday and I've spoken to another two professionals and they've all said that I'll be a better player after a year on the tour."

Wood has already received an invitation to the Quinn Insurance British Masters at The Belfry on September 25-28. His management company are the promoters of that event.

McIlroy made his professional debut there last season and a week later came third in the Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.

Wood is allowed seven sponsor's invites and if he earns around ฃ150,000 from them, he will avoid November's European Tour qualifying school.

"We are thrilled and delighted that Chris has chosen to join ISM when he had several options," said managing director Andrew Chandler.

"He is an extremely talented and likeable young man and proved at The Open that he can perform at the highest level."

Wood partnered Ian Poulter in the final round of The Open and at the start of the back nine was only two off the lead.

Although he slipped back into a tie for fifth, seven strokes behind Padraig Harrington, his performance was easily the best by an amateur in any major since Justin Rose's fourth-place finish on the same course 10 years ago.