The NCG Podcast: Ryder Cup special – Chris WoodSeptember 12, 2018 The Scoop
Chris Wood joins Alex Perry and Mark Townsend on the podcast to bare his soul in a fascinating insight into his Ryder Cup experience
How do you look back at your 2016 experience?
Well, I wish I had played a little bit more. I felt like I was playing pretty well. It was a difficult position for the captain when you lose 4-0 win in the first session on Friday morning, but the likes of myself, Sully and Fitz, we probably weren’t given the right chance.
I didn’t play until Saturday morning and that was it for me until the singles.
What was Rose like to partner?
I played Saturday morning with Rose in foursomes, which went well, but I didn’t envisage myself being out in a foursomes. Whether the plans changed or not, I couldn’t say. But it felt as if the captain reverted to experience I suppose, rather than giving the rookies a chance to prove themselves, which I think most of us did really.
A couple of the experienced lads weren’t maybe quite on their game. It’s a difficult position to be in obviously but, you know, you sort of feel deep down it’s really tough when you aren’t picked and you know you are playing pretty good.
It’s tough to watch, so overall I would say I held my own and individually I felt I had a pretty decent Ryder Cup but, as a team, the individual side is irrelevant if you have not won the trophy. Overall, it was a pretty flat disappointment for me.
How did you fill your time on the Friday?
I went out to watch everyone tee off. David Howell said to me, ‘Get yourself down onto the 1st tee in the morning and just experience it. See how nervous is, it will make you feel better when it comes to your turn. You will see some wild tee shots and you will see how nervous everyone is.’ And, of course, everyone flushed it straight down the middle. It didn’t do me any good at all.
Then we got the chance – three or four of us – to nip out and play the first two or three holes. Then it’s sort of 11 o’clock and you are getting ready to play. ‘Am I going to get the nod for this afternoon?’, which I didn’t. I sort of felt like I would be playing and from that point on you are absolutely drained because you are buzzing to get out there.
When you are told that you are sitting out this afternoon all your energy just comes straight out of you. I think I just crashed in our team room for about three hours and then went out and watched the back nine on one of the buggies.
The Friday night after play had finished we were all in our team room – players, caddies, backroom and just everyone really. Clarkie announced the pairings in the morning. When he announced that me and Fitzy were playing the whole team sort of erupted and got behind us. At that moment, I felt a part of it and I was back on it. I came out Saturday morning and I had forgotten about Friday. You go out there and you win your point.
How special is it to contribute a point and get your Ryder Cup career off the ground?
The feeling of winning a point in the Ryder Cup is like winning a tournament. To be paired with Rosey, who I look up to – he was a dream partner for me really. We played pretty solid and had a good match against Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson. It was a great feeling and I sort of came off thinking, ‘I am right into this. Get me out there this afternoon.’ Unfortunately, I wasn’t played.
I was mentally ready to go after we had won and then told I was not playing. Again, you sort of flop out with energy and feel drained. You just have a couple of hours getting yourself together again in the team room and then you get out there and support the team. That is the bottom line; you are there as a team. It’s just hard as an individual when you feel like you can add to the team and you are not out there.
Had you ever played with Dustin Johnson before the Sunday singles?
I think that was probably the first time but I felt all right. I fancied it. I was playing well, I had a great start – I think I was three under through four or five, or something like that. It was a really good game and he just out-putted me. It just felt like it was one of those games I deserved something out of. It sort of summed up my week really. I was quite deflated to the point where there was a bit of a party on the Sunday night and I just wasn’t in the mood for it. I just didn’t feel like we had achieved much out of it and I just didn’t feel like I wanted to get smashed, like a lot of players do. I just didn’t feel like that really.
Do you feel like you would have played more under a different captain?
It’s a hard one as a captain to have so many rookies in his team. It was tough for Clarkey. From a selfish point of view, you can say he didn’t use me as much as he should have done. But only I know that. He can’t exactly tell how I’m playing, although he’s got his spies out there in the practice rounds and that sort of thing. I think a lot of things went out the window after the first session.
Maybe another captain might have dealt with things slightly differently. Every captain is going to be slightly different. In the team room, I thought he was phenomenal. I couldn’t fault him on that side of things. His passion really came out.
It changed every day during practice. One day Sam Torrance walked with me, another day Poulter walked with me.
During the build-up, Thomas [Bjorn] was the one who I felt I could text or go and sit with in the players’ lounge at the tournament, or he would come up to me on the putting green, ‘How you doing? Anything you want to talk about?’ From my experience with him, I think he will be an awesome captain.
Will you be tuning in this year?
I think I am going to struggle to watch this year – well, I will watch it obviously but it’s going to be quite tough, particularly being in Europe. I want to be part of a Ryder Cup in Europe. To have that feel of the home support would just be incredible. It’s more like the lion’s den in America, I think. Particularly as a rookie, it’s a tough place to make your debut.
Chris Wood was speaking to NCG as an ambassador for Hilton Hotels, the official hotel of the European Tour.