Gulf News caught up with English DP World Tour golfer Chris Wood, who has been practising at the Els Club in Dubai. The 34-year-old 2016 Ryder Cupper is the winner of three DP World Tour events — the 2013 Qatar Masters, 2015 Austrian Open and the 2016 BMW PGA Championship.
Why are you in Dubai this time?
I am at the Els Club for just three days before flying off to South Africa for two events: the MyGolfLife Open and the Steyn City Championship. I am practising on the range as well as doing some gym work and on Sunday I played some holes on the golf course. I saw my golf coach, Alan Thompson, last week back home, so we are working on a few things. I will then come back to the Middle East and play in the Qatar Masters in Doha. I won there in 2013, so it will bring back some good memories. I understand that they have renovated the ninth and 18th greens complex, so we look forward to seeing how that now looks.
You are a frequent visitor to Dubai and the UAE, what attracts you to this part of the world?
Believe it or not, I am not often seen wearing shorts and a T-shirt in Bristol weather in March. That just does not happen. So, I always like coming here for some winter practice time. I came out here, with the family, two weeks before the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship at the start of the year. A lot of players make Dubai and the UAE a winter base, as well as a warm-up destination, whatever tour they are playing on, such is the ideal location for us all, the wonderful winter weather and the exceptional golf facilities. I always get well looked after at the golf clubs, and I must thank, especially, the Els Club and Jumeirah Golf Estates for being such generous hosts.
Tell us about your memories of your Qatar win in 2013 and why you seem to play well there?
It always seems to be windy in Qatar, and I am usually comfortable with a decent breeze, as long as I am on my game. On tour, a wind seems to immediately take half of the field out of contention — perhaps mentally. I usually thrive in the wind and feel I can only climb up the leaderboard. Doha Golf Club is also the scene of, perhaps, the greatest shot of my career to date. I was one back of the leaders in the clubhouse: Sergio Garcia and George Coetzee, playing the 72nd hole, the par five 18th, and after a solid drive, I hit a 6 iron to 12 feet and holed the eagle putt to win the Mother of Pearl Trophy by one shot. Great memories.
How is the season going to date, and what is your schedule for the year?
I am never a fast starter, and after the recent UAE Swing there is a gap, and I have had four weeks off, which I find difficult to adjust to. I usually do not feel comfortable with my game until, perhaps May, so that can be a personal frustration. I am planning to play in the two Spain events and then we will see how the season unfolds. I must congratulate Keith Pelley, DP World Tour CEO, and Dr Andrew Murray, Chief Medical and Scientific Officer, and all involved at the DP World Tour for doing such a fantastic job in keeping everything going over the last couple of years, in these challenging Covid times. Hopefully, it is now mostly behind us, but it can never be easy dealing with all the different governments and health authorities in all the countries we visit.
How do you balance family and tour life these days?
We now have two kids, aged three and five. I love being a parent and, in life, priorities do change. Family life is important to me. I feel that three weeks on tour is my limit to be away from my kids. Then I need to see the family and kids again. I do miss them when I am travelling.