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Thursday, 03 June 2010
Chris Wood   (Getty Images)
Chris Wood (Getty Images)
Chris Wood leads The Celtic Manor Wales Open after a record-equalling opening round of 65, six under par, on the same Celtic Manor Resort course that will host The Ryder Cup in October.

After the disappointment of a closing 77 when leading the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth two weeks ago, the 6ft 5in golfer hit back with six birdies in a flawless display.

The 22 year old from Bristol, who is able to commute from home across the Severn Bridge, ended day one in front of Welshman Bradley Dredge and Australian Andrew Dodt.

His last three tournament finishes have been third, fifth and sixth, boosting his chances of returning to this venue as part of The Ryder Cup team.

But Wood, last season's Rookie of the Year on The European Tour, maintains his focus is on overcoming his rivals this week.

“It's not been a massive goal of mine, but I know my game is capable enough of playing at that level,” he said.

“I'm just looking to win now. Obviously I've started to get myself in contention more often, so the more I do it the more likely it's going to happen.

“I've just got to stay patient - and play good golf.”

The best of his birdies came at the 439 yard eighth, his 16th, where he struck a nine iron out of a fairway bunker to five feet.

Last week's Madrid Masters winner Luke Donald could manage only a four over 75.

But leading local hope Rhys Davies, the player he pushed into second place in Spain, is very much in the hunt again following a 67.

Dredge finished second in this event three years ago, albeit on another of the courses at the resort, and after his round pointed out an additional advantage of playing on home soil.

"I actually prefer it when I get out and there's more friends and family in the crowd," he said.

"I feel like if I hit it in the rough there'll always be someone there to kick it back out ... only joking."

Ross McGowan, currently fifth in The Ryder Cup standings just behind Donald, was five under with four to play, but lost a ball on the driveable 15th and, after double bogeying there, dropped further shots at the 16th and long 18th for a one under 70.

On the same mark were Open de España champion Alvaro Quiros, thanks in a part to a hole in one on the 189 yard third, and The Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie.

Those two were playing together and it was another opportunity for Montgomerie to admire the 27 year old's immense power, an asset he believes could be really useful against the Americans in four months' time.

Simon Khan, back in action after his life-changing victory at Wentworth, sank a 35 foot putt for an eagle two on the 15th, but played the rest in two over for a 71.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1MCDOWELL, GraemeNIR18-15
2DAVIES, RhysWAL18-12
3DONALD, LukeENG18-10
T4ROCK, RobertENG18-9
T4MOLINARI, EdoardoITA18-9
T4GALLACHER, StephenSCO18-9
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