Chris Wood falls short as Ashun Wu captures KLM Open

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Chris Wood falls short as Ashun Wu captures KLM Open

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Chris Wood falls short as Ashun Wu captures KLM Open

Chris Wood reached his pre-tournament target of 15 under par in the KLM Open at The Dutch in Spijk, Netherlands. Too bad he didn’t aim a little higher. He might have bettered Ashun Wu’s 16-under winning total.

It was another case of so near yet so far for the 6-foot-6 Englishman.

Wood finished one shot off the pace as Wu posted a 268 to become the first Chinese player to win three times on the European Tour. Wu’s check for $349,000 moves him to 43rd on the European money list.

Wood took home $232,000 to move to 21st. He might have won if not for a double-bogey 6 at the 12th hole.

“Apart from a couple of bad tee shots, I didn’t hit a bad shot all day,” Wood said. “It’s hard to take at the minute. When you get a chance to win, you want to take it.”

Wood is bidding to get back to the form that saw him make his Ryder Cup debut two years ago at Hazeltine.

The genial Englishman reached 11th place on the European pecking order in 2016. Victory in that year’s BMW PGA Championship, his third tour win, helped him make the European team. Wood saw limited action at Hazeltine as one of six rookies on the European side. Nevertheless, he performed adequately. He paired with Justin Rose for a 1-up foursomes victory over Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson before losing by the same score to Dustin Johnson in singles.

Wood was one of the cadre of European rookies last time around expected to make run at a spot this year, but that was never on the cards after poor form the last 18 months. He sank to 51st on the money list last year and turned up at this year’s British Open a shadow of the man who won the BMW PGA Championship, one of Europe’s most prestigious tournaments.

“I’ve not been striking the ball well enough for a long time now,” said Wood, who finished T-28 in the British Open. “I’ve been in a right mess technically for about 18 months.”

The mess seems to be over, but not sufficiently to get Wood over the line. The KLM was his third runner-up of the season following the Oman and French Opens. He’s also missed seven cuts this season, including three in a row to kick off his season.

Wood’s past two years are further proof that form in this game can be elusive. He’s not alone. Of the six rookies on the 2016 European team, none have returned to action this year.

Matthew Fitzpatrick won last week’s Omega European Masters when a win the previous week in Denmark would have earned him a return Ryder Cup ticket. He’s struggled to find consistency most of this season.

Andy Sullivan is nowhere near the player he was three years ago. He’s 132nd in the world from a high of 28th in February 2016.

Danny Willett has disappeared off the map, perhaps proving his 2016 Masters win was just a flash in the pan.

Many feel Rafa Cabrera Bello was unlucky not to get a captain’s pick this year. Others point to just one win in the last three years as not good enough for a player of his caliber.

Thomas Pieters might be the biggest enigma of the 2016 Ryder Cup class. He went 4-1 at Hazeltine and hasn’t lived up to his hype ever since.

So, Wood is in good company. He just needs to emulate Fitzpatrick and win before the end of the year to regain the confidence he had when he turned up at Hazeltine. Gwk

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