Chris Wood provides a surprising answer when he is asked to recall the best and most memorable shot he has ever seen at The Open.
Wood has made nine appearances in golf’s original Championship, twice coming close to glory as he recorded an outstanding fifth-placed finish as an amateur at Royal Birkdale in 2008 before finishing tied-third at Turnberry the following year.
Yet although he has plenty of experience of competing with the best players in the world at The Open, Wood highlights a penalty stroke from a Champion Golfer as the most notable ‘shot’ he has witnessed.
“I’m going a little off-piste, I suppose, but I would go back to Turnberry,” says Wood, the subject of our latest Tales of The Open podcast.
“It was the third round, I was playing with Justin Leonard, and we were on the 11th, the par 3 right by the sea.
“He’d missed the green on the right by about three yards so he’s in around two inches of cut rough. And I was on the green but left of the pin, so we’re probably 20 yards apart.
“He’d addressed his ball and you just sort of think he’s going to play it. Anyway, he sort of stopped and came over to me and called a penalty on himself by saying, ‘I think I made that ball move’, or something along those lines.”
Wood, 21 at the time and in his first full season as a professional, was full of admiration for the way the Champion of 1997 conducted himself.
Twelve years on from his Open triumph at Royal Troon, Leonard had made a lasting impression on his young playing partner.
“We are used to that in our game,” Wood added. “We’re lucky that 99 per cent of players are absolutely fantastic, but I just thought … he’s a former Open Champion, and he’s had a 20 to 25-year career as a top professional, and that just showed me what a class act he was, there and then.
“With it being my first year on tour, that was just like ‘wow’. Not that you should expect anything else, but it was just the way he did it. It was just a touch of class from him really.”