I had two weeks off after the Masters working really hard on my game with my coach.

by Chris Wood on April 30, 2010

Last year my caddie Dave McNeilly rated my driving two or three out of 10. This year he reckons it's gone up to 7 or 8.

I concentrated on actually playing as competitively as I could because I feel my season has been so stop-start that I’ve not got into any groove. I’m anxious to get into a playing mode.  I made sure I played at least nine holes every day. I played 18 holes a day in a four-round tournament format, two rounds at my own club, Long Ashton, and rounds at the Kendleshire in Bristol and Burnham and Berrow.

I’ve been playing a lot better than I’ve been scoring, which has been very frustrating. But it will all come together when I’ve played consistently more.  There hasn’t been much for me to work on technically because my coach and I feel I’m hitting the ball OK. It’s just rustiness. In this case you need to do things like sharpening up your short game, working on your putting. It’s important to feel you’re holing one or two more puts here and there – really, getting your eye in, as it were. 

I’ve really enjoyed working on my short game with my MP T-10 Black Ni wedges. Varying the bounce a little bit with the wedges has been important. I’ve got four different lob wedges, all with the same loft but all with different bounce. 

For somewhere like Augusta, where the greens are very fast and slopey, where you need a lot of spin, you need to play short, little ‘chippy’ shots with lots of spin. I had my heels ground off a little, so I could work the heel a little bit more into the ground, cut across the ball a little bit easier, to create a little bit more spin. 

I had a disappointing debut in the Masters, not making the cut, but I actually played some great shots at Augusta, short-game-wise. You have to land the ball on a pin-point and your visualisation has to be spot-on. You pick a spot and land there with spin. Then hope for the best! 

I learned so much from my first visit to the Masters. For a start I felt my short game was great there and it will stand me in good stead for the season. The course is so hard. It’s entirely different to playing Open Championships. I had a 20ft putt for birdie on the 17th one day, slightly uphill, slightly right-to-left. I thought I’d hit quite a good putt...15ft past. Walking to the 18th tee I looked back at what was my first putt. It was downhill. I just hadn’t seen that from where I’d looked at the putt. You write that kind of thing down in your planner for next time. It could save you a shot. 

I saw Phil Mickelson writing a couple of things down in his book...a chip shot that didn’t quite react the way he’d thought it would, for instance. He’s been there 14 or 15 times – and he’s still learning!

On links courses for the Open Championship, all you need to do really is control your ball flight, especially in the wind. Almost anywhere on a links green in normal conditions is good enough. At Augusta, anywhere on the green could be dead. 

Talking about penetrating driving, I’m using the Mizuno MP-630 FAST TRACK now.  I used it for the first time the week before the Masters at Houston. I’m absolutely delighted with it.  Last year my caddie Dave McNeilly rated my driving two or three out of 10. This year he reckons it’s gone up to seven or eight. It’s setting the holes up for me completely differently. I went through the stats at Houston. I was really surprised. This hole I had only 100 left; that hole only 120...all from the fairway. On the Trackman I’m recording eight yards further off the tee. My driving is turning into one of the strongest parts of my game.  I reckon Lee Westwood’s the best driver of the ball in the world at the moment and that’s where I’m looking to get to.

The BMW PGA Championship is the tournament I have my eye on most at the moment.  I’ve never played Wentworth, only seen it a spectator. The changes Ernie’s made there have everybody talking. Everybody’s wondering how they are going to get on playing the new layout. I spoke to Thomas Bjorn. He lives there but he hasn’t even played it under its new look.  

Everyone’s been used to the old course. Maybe it will be an advantage never having played there before.

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Author Chris Wood

After a top-5 finish as an amateur in the 2008 British Open, Chris Wood proved his future is bright by following up with a 3rd-place finish in 2009, putting him on his way to earning the Sir Henry Cotton award as the 2009 European Tour Rookie of the Year.