SOUTHPORT, England (July 20, 2008)--Chris Wood won the Silver Medal awarded to the top amateur, but he'll be remembered for far more than that: the performance of this 20-year-old from Bristol was truly extraordinary, and surely points to a successful future career at the very top level of the game. Wood didn't just win the Silver Medal, he nearly took home the Claret Jug.
Having played himself into contention with a one-under-par outward half of 33, in the fourth round, he then slipped up with a run of three bogeys that were easily understandable on a very tough day.
But rather than fade away down the leaderboard, Wood pulled himself back with a birdie on 17 that at the time awakened the prospect of him getting into the mix.
This was no fluke on the back of a round or two of superb golf: it was a grinding performance in the toughest of conditions by a player who never looked less than completely comfortable despite his amateur status.
His appearance on the fourth round leaderboard wasn't unfathomable, never once did he look out of his depth, and it's to his enormous credit that the prize he was aiming at was clearly the Claret Jug rather than merely the Silver Medal.
All that remains to be seen is whether he will end up better placed than Justin Rose was in 1998.
"It's been the best week of my life," said the ecstatic Wood after his round. "I didn't feel any pressure at all really, apart from the first tee. I didn't really feel like there was any pressure on me all day."
It certainly looked that way from outside the ropes as shot after shot Wood played as if he was knocking the ball round for fun with a few friends on a Sunday afternoon.
For a while he threatened to out-do his high-profile playing partner, Ian Poulter, but in the end, however, he was destined to come up short, but he handled his near-miss as if it were nothing other than a normal event.
"That's links golf," he said. "I felt like I dealt with it quite well, and it was just unfortunate having three bogeys in the middle of the back nine. That's not what you need to win tournaments like this."
That says it all: Wood clearly seems to know what it would take to win a tournament like this. And, after this week, it would be hard to argue against his chances of having another chance.