Chris Wood's defence of Qatar Masters title in Doha tinged with sadness
England's Chris Wood says there will be bitter-sweet emotions when he returns to defend his Qatar Masters title in Doha.
Last Updated: 21/01/14 7:15pm
Wood claimed his first European Tour title 12 months ago in brilliant fashion, making an eagle three on the final hole to beat Sergio Garcia and George Coetzee by a shot.
But the 26-year-old Bristolian's return to Doha Golf Club will also be tinged with sadness following the recent death of his grandfather.
"It's been pretty tough with my grandfather passing away," Wood said at the weekend as he competed in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. "I was pretty close to him so it's been a tough week. He was pretty proud of me."
After 19 top-10 finishes, Wood looked in danger of missing out again on a European Tour win last year when a nervy start turned a three-stroke overnight lead into a two-shot deficit before the turn.
He came to the par-five 18th one behind Garcia and Coetzee, but after a booming drive the 6ft 5in golfer - best remembered for coming fifth in the 2008 Open as an amateur and then third at Turnberry a year later - hit a six-iron to 12 feet and holed the putt for a winning eagle.
"I can't wait, it's amazing how quickly a year goes," said Wood, who had won the Thailand Open in August 2012 for his first professional success, but still remembered how he lost the 2010 BMW PGA Championship with a closing 77 and the 2011 Majorca Open with a 76 after leading by four.
"It has come round so fast. It's one of our best events on tour, the course suits me but it's going to be a new experience for me defending a title.
"My girlfriend got me a DVD of the television coverage and I've watched it a couple of times, although not as often as I thought I might. I don't have any trouble remembering the last couple of shots I hit. I remember a lot of the week actually and I think you always will, your first win on tour.
"I won in Thailand on the OneAsia tour and that did me the world of good. It's a strong, up-and-coming tour and no matter where you win, it's a win and you still get the same feeling. I slept on the Saturday night lead out there and managed to post a good final round and won by a couple of shots. I just made it a bit harder for myself in Qatar.
"A lot of good players out here haven't won and it's really tough. Finally crossing the line took me four years, but I feel my game is getting to the stage where I can perform a lot more consistently and wins give you that confidence."
Watch this week's Qatar Masters every morning on Sky Sports HD 4, starting on Wednesday at 06.30