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Chris Wood
Chris Wood can already start making some travel plans for next year. (Franklin/Getty Images)

Wood delighted with tie for third, and what it means

Chris Wood's big finish at Turnberry this week means a big paycheck for the young professional. Even better, he says, is that it earns him spots in both the 2010 Masters and Open at St. Andrews.

TURNBERRY, Scotland (PA) -- A year after finishing fifth as an amateur at the Open Championship, England's Chris Wood bettered the feat -- only this time as a professional -- and with it booked a place at next year's Masters.

The 21-year-old carded a final-round 67 Sunday to leap into a tie for third on 1 under par alongside compatriot Luke Donald as many of the leading contenders fell away under the pressure of a final day.

It was reminiscent of his performance at Royal Birkdale 12 months ago, only then he missed out on a place at Augusta by one shot as just the top four from the Open qualify.

Having started the day at 2 over -- six strokes off the lead -- Wood's aim was to make the top 10. After an eagle-3 at the seventh and a birdie at the next, he turned in a best-of-the-day 32 and looked like he was challenging for the Claret Jug.

However, though three birdies and three bogeys coming home put paid to those chances, he was still satisfied with his performance.

"Last year I think helped me an awful lot today. It's weird to say I'm only 21 and I've contended in two majors already," said Wood. "The experiences I've got out of the Open are going to be amazing for my career. I'm just going to move on and move on every year.

"It was one of my goals today to go out and get into that top 10 to securing a place [in the Open] for next year and finish as high up as I can,” he added. "And obviously I've given myself a good chance to get in the Race to Dubai (the European Tour's money-spinning end-of-season tournament) now, as well."

Wood won the Silver Medal for leading amateur at Birkdale and was, purely by coincidence, paired with Justin Rose -- also a Silver Medal winner at the Southport links in 1999. He turned professional immediately after last year's Open and earned a place on this year's European Tour through qualifying school.

To be in contention at a major for the second year running is a daunting prospect, but Wood admitted he tried not to think about the situation he had put himself in.

"I played each shot as it came and really felt like I controlled my nerves well," added the rookie, who briefly retreated to the practice ground after his round in case there was only a playoff, only to see Stewart Cink post a 2-under total to dash his hopes.

"My caddie wouldn't let me look at the leaderboard, but I got a couple of sneaky looks in,” he explained. "But I didn't think of being Open champion at all. I just felt so proud of myself to stay in every shot, and I knew exactly where I wanted to hit every shot and I felt like I did that."

The one bonus for this year is that at least, as a member of the paid ranks now, he will be able to bank a big check.

"I've just got a new flat so I need to pay the rent for that, so I should be all right," he joked.
 

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