Chris Wood near lead after Round 1 of KLM Open

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Chris Wood near lead after Round 1 of KLM Open

Euro Tour

Chris Wood near lead after Round 1 of KLM Open

Chris Wood cut a dejected figure during this year’s British Open at Carnoustie. The 6-foot-6 Englishman looked lost and confused, searching for the game that earned him his Ryder Cup debut in 2016.

The three-time European Tour winner, however, looked the opposite in the opening round of the $2.1 million KLM Open on Thursday in the Netherlands. Wood returned a bogey-free 6-under 65 around the Dutch Course in Spijk. He trails China’s Ashun Wu by a shot.

Wood had three birdies on each nine to match the 65 he scored in the final round last year, when he finished T-9.

“The greens are up there with the best we’ve played this year,” Wood said. “And when its one the best parts of your game, if you get your eye in you can knock a few in. I did early on and started to hit a few better shots on the back nine, and gave myself loads of chances.”

Hitting fairways around the Colin Montgomerie-designed layout is the key to good scoring, and Wood managed that.

“I’m not the straightest with the driver,” Wood said. “If I can put the ball in the fairways I know my iron play, my wedges and my putting is good enough.”

Wood finished T-23 in the Omega European Masters last week, his first event after a three-week break.

“I feel a little bit sharper this week,” Wood said. “I love the event here. It’s nice to come back and start well.”

Wood’s name was missing this year from the list of possible European Ryder Cup players, despite making his debut two years ago. Second-place finishes in the Oman Open and French Open seemed to suggest he was on the way back, but he admitted at Carnoustie his game was a long way off the form that took him to Hazeltine.

“I’ve not been striking the ball well enough for a long time now,” said Wood, who finished T-28 in the Open Championship. “I’ve been in a right mess technically for about 18 months. It’s been a struggle to try to get a decent ball flight.”

He had that in Round 1 in Holland. He’ll be hoping for more of the same over the next three days.

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