Wood shines at Celtic Manor

6/3/2010 1:05:15 PM
Chris Wood  (Getty Images)
Chris Wood (Getty Images)

Chris Wood began  The Celtic Manor Wales Open with a sparkling six under par 65 at The Celtic Manor Resort today.

Still hoping to force himself into the reckoning for a Ryder Cup debut on the course in October, the 6ft 5in golfer from Bristol opened up an early one stroke lead over fellow Englishman Richard McEvoy and local hope Bradley Dredge.

Wood is looking to hit straight back from the disappointment of failing to win the The European Tour's flagship BMW PGA Championship two weeks ago having led with a round to go Wentworth.

He was quickly into his stride again with three birdies in his first eight holes and then picked up further strokes at the fourth, seventh and eighth.

The 22 year old, fifth and third in the last two The Open Championships, had a chance to add another on the long ninth, but lipped out from nine feet.

Dredge was runner-up in the event three years ago, but that was on another of the courses at the venue.

A victory on the lay-out where the Americans will defend the Ryder Cup would be a huge feather in his cap as he pursues what he calls a "one-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to play in the match on home soil.

He was four under after nine, failed to get up and down from a bunker at the 422 yard sixth, but birdied the next two like Wood.

As for European Captain Colin Montgomerie, he was level par after 15 holes, but he did sink a bunker shot on the 14th and he did witness the shot of the morning from playing partner Alvaro Quiros.

The Open de EspaƱa champion won a magnum of champagne for holing in one with a six iron at the 189 yard third.

Currently in the ninth and last automatic qualifying place, Quiros stood one under as he approached the closing stretch of his opening round.

Oliver Wilson, a member of Nick Faldo's side two years ago, was the third member of the group and also hoping to impress the present Captain, of course. He was making a decent fist of that at two under.

McEvoy, a graduate from last year's European Challenge Tour, was last out of the morning starters, turned in 32 and then moved alongside Dredge with a four at the long 11th.

Fellow Essex golfer Simon Khan, returning to action after his life-changing BMW PGA Championship victory, was one under with two to play.

Among the later starters were Luke Donald and Rhys Davies, first and second in the Madrid Masters on Sunday.

Wood, who matched Simon Dyson's course record, says that winning a first title is more important to him at the moment than the Ryder Cup, but Dredge admits the match is a "massive target".

He joined Wood with three successive birdies from the seventh, but finished with a disappointing bogey four.

The 66 put him back alongside McEvoy in joint second place, while Montgomerie posted a one under 70, the same as Wilson and one better than Quiros.

Wood said: "The Ryder Cup is completely in the back of my mind. I'm just looking to win and I've just got to stay patient."