A week ago Chris Wood pulled into the car park of Wynnum Golf Club without a place in the Australian PGA Championship field and looking at a skinny schedule to start 2019.
He returns today for the $50,000 Bartons/BMD Wynnum Pro-Am with not only a higher profile but a greater level of confidence having finished tied for 16th at RACV Royal Pines Resort.
John Senden, Rod Pampling, Rodger Davis, David Bransdon and newly crowned ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit winner Jake McLeod lead a star-studded field for the 40th Wynnum Pro-Am which just so happens to be Wood’s home club.
A 7-under par round of 63 at Wynnum last Monday secured Wood one of three spots into the PGA Championship field where he followed up an opening round of 71 with a 6-under 66 in the second to thrust his name into the spotlight.
After a 76 on Saturday he bounced back with a 1-under par round of 71 on championship Sunday to move from 67th on the Order of Merit with Tier 2 status to 42nd.
Where he missed out on qualifying for the Vic Open in February, the 27-year-old now looks certain to be exempt for the now European Tour co-sanctioned Vic Open and ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth along with the New Zealand Open.
Not only will he enter the new year knowing he can skip those dreaded Monday qualifiers, Wood will carry the confidence forward of knowing his game is good enough to contend in an elite field.
“Qualifiers are never fun,” Wood said after completing his round on Sunday.
“Even though I qualified this week to get in on Monday, three spots into a field, that's tough.
“The category I was in was for the Tier 2 money list for this year, so with whatever I earn this week, hopefully that will sneak me in (to the top 50).
“The next four rounder I'll play will be maybe Vic Open, so very similar field, European Tour field, so knowing that I can tee it up with a lot of good European guys gives me some confidence for sure.”
Playing in the third to last group on Saturday in front of the big galleries that converged on Royal Pines was a completely new experience for Wood who despite shooting 4-over came away with some valuable lessons.
“Obviously the round on Friday really set up the week for me,” said Wood, who while playing the pro-am circuit this year travelled out to the Queensland mining towns of Emerald, Moranbah and Middlemount.
“It came out of nowhere because I wasn't really playing spectacular golf coming into this week or even the last couple months really.
“But with the round on Friday I was really looking forward to the round on Saturday and it was a good experience.
“I was nervous all day, all 76 shots, but it's a learning curve.
“To come out and be 4-under through 12 or 13 holes today, it was good to bounce back from that round yesterday.
“Bit of a poor finish, but that's still a good week.
“The big thing for me is I've never really been in that sort of position before, third last group in one of the biggest tournaments in Australia.
“That's something to be proud of.
“Could always play better, but it's a learning curve and I'll come back better.”
And like he had over the weekend on the Gold Coast, Wood will have plenty of support on his return to Wynnum today.
“The members have always been very supportive of me back in Wynnum,” said Wood, who played with Englishman Ross McGowan on Sunday as he compiled a new course record 9-under 63.
“A few came down this week and had a look.
“I'm looking forward to getting back and seeing them all and playing well.”
Wood tees off at 10.36am off the 10th tee with McLeod off at 11.57am, Senden at 12.06pm and Pampling 12.15pm.
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