• Chris Wood is set for a 'special' Open at Royal Troon
• He's relying heavily on caddie Mark 'Punk' Crane
• Crane lives just ten minutes from the Open venue
Fresh off his win in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, Chris Wood can't wait to get things underway at this week's Open Championship, an event he has a special history with.
The 28-year-old took Lead Amateur honours in 2008 as he finished in a tie for fifth with his dad as his caddie. A year later he returned as a professional and finished in a tie for third. That 2009 finish remains his best major result to date, but he loves coming back to play the Open every chance he gets.
The Englishman was forced to pull out of last week’s Scottish Open with a neck injury, but recovered in time to play his first ever round at Royal Troon on Sunday, and he said he’s grateful to have his Ayrshire-based caddie Mark 'Punk' Crane alongside him.
“I hadn’t played at Royal Troon before this week,” Chris Wood exclusively told bunkered.co.uk. “My caddie ‘Punk’ lives ten minutes away from Troon and he’s really good when it comes to walking golf courses and picking out the key points for us. I have the confidence in him where I can go out on the golf course, play it pretty blind, and know what I’m doing and where I’m going.”
As part of his preparations, Crane played the course a few weeks ago before being spotted walking with Rory McIlroy during the Northern Irishman's Saturday practice round at the Open host venue.
Chris Wood has enjoyed a purple patch of form since his victory at Wentworth. He finished in a tie for 6th as he defended his Lyoness Open in Austria before finishing in 23rd place in his first US Open and then posted an 11th place finish at the French Open.
He had been hoping to play competitive golf last week as part of his preparations, but shoulder trouble brought an end to those plans. It did, however, allow him to head to Troon earlier than expected.
That being said, Chris Wood is only planning to play nine holes on each of the practice days in an attempt to avoid burning out during one of the most intense weeks on the golfing calendar.
“I think that’s quite good at majors because they’re long weeks,” he added. “I’ll spend a lot of time around the greens, chipping and putting, because once you’ve got your lines off the tee, the golf course can play so different one day to the next.
“A lot of links golf is about being able to play around the greens and getting a good feel for them.”
And when it comes to the prospect of lifting the Claret Jug on Sunday, Wood says he’ll only think about that if he’s in contention heading into the final round.
He said: “Both the win and my form have given me a lot of confidence heading into this week but I wouldn’t say I have a target.
“I’m the kind of guy who just wants to battle away as hard as I can for four days. Royal Troon is tough by all accounts, especially the back-nine, but I won’t worry about winning until the business end of the week.”
Chris Wood - Open draw
Wood will begin his Open challenge on Thursday at 2:26pm alongside Japan’s Yusaku Miyazato and 1998 Open champion Mark O’Meara.