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January 24, 2017

Chris Wood

Doha, Qatar

Q. Welcome back to Doha for the 20th anniversary, obviously this is a tournament and place you've got very fond memories of.
CHRIS WOOD: Yeah, seen scene of my first win on The European Tour in 2013. I don't know where the time goes, four years ago now. But every year I come back here, I always sort of remember the shots I hit and the finish in particular. Eagling the last to beat one of my sort of childhood heros, Sergio García, is pretty special.

So yeah, every year I come back here, I sort of feel like I'm going to give myself a chance, just because of the memories that I have here. I always love coming back.

Q. Just talk us through those closing stages which you alluded to. How important was that first European Tour victory to you?
CHRIS WOOD: Massive, really. And I think I showed it in my sort of celebration. I sort of gave everything to a fist pump I could, really, when I holed the eagle putt.

Yeah, I think obviously I've come on as a player since then. Four years ago is quite a long time. I've put myself in contention to win more events since, and I have done. There's nothing like feeling the importance of every single shot over the last few holes when you're in contention to win. You know, one shot, one putt missed here or there can make all the difference.

It's hard to explain until you've been in that position, but it really is the reason that we play; the pressure that you put yourself under trying to win a tournament, trying to finish a tournament off. It's like something I've never experienced week-in and week-out, really.

Q. What is it about this golf course you find so conducive to your game?
CHRIS WOOD: I'm generally quite happy playing in wind, so Doha, you tend to get breezy conditions. The greens have got quite a lot of grain on, so you've really got to be quite a good putter here. That's one of my strengths of my game now. And yeah, some guys struggle to settle in on greens like that. You've got not just the break of the green but the strength of the grass and the way the grain is growing, and it can frustrate some guys.

So if you can sort of stay patient on the greens and wait for your putts to drop, then you sort of are a shot ahead of the field, really.

Q. It's a track, as well, that tends to favour big hitters, if previous winners are anything to go by?
CHRIS WOOD: I wouldn't consider myself one of the very longest but I'm long enough. So yeah, clearly it's suited to my game. I think I can reach all the par 5s, apart from the ninth, which maybe only one or two guys can reach in two. But you know, clearly I've won here before, so there's every chance again this week.

Q. Always great to be part of an illustrious field, but when you have an anniversary for a tournament, hard to believe, isn't it, that this event, and we've got the Desert Classic, as well, in Dubai, are both such long-standing and staple parts of The European Tour. Because when they first started and golf came to this region, people said it's impossible to play this sport in the desert.
CHRIS WOOD: Well, look at it now. Every year we come back this time of year, obviously we have Abu Dhabi now, as well. We have three quality events to start our season off. It really is great, obviously known as The Desert Swing now.

I sat next to Paul Lawrie on the flight over on Sunday night, and we're coming in to land and he was telling me, I think he played in the very first one 20 years ago. He was telling me about this building wasn't there; all these buildings weren't there and that was the only one here.

Someone like me, my eighth year on Tour now, which feels a long time, but relatively, it's not. I never saw any of these places when the tournaments first came, so to listen and chat to the older boys like that gives you insight into how far these events have come.

Q. What have you been focusing on in particular in the off-season?
CHRIS WOOD: Rest, really. It's nice to put the clubs away for a few weeks. We don't get a massive break, really, considering the amount of travel and the amount of time we're away from home over a year. To just have six weeks off, it goes very quickly.

Put the clubs away for a few weeks, but then you've got to start, get back into it. Obviously you can't really spend too much time chipping and putting in the U.K. this time of year on frozen greens, all that sort of thing. Generally you're sort of just hitting a few balls and just trying to have a few games with your friends, and then come out to the Middle East a little bit early and sort of find that touch.

Q. Is there a particular area going forwards in the early part of the season of the game that you're looking to either improve or spend extra time focusing on?
CHRIS WOOD: Definitely. Definitely the short game. Like I said, I can hit balls at home if I want and play on the course. But there's nothing like the shots around the greens or the five-foot putt you've got to hole. The more you can practice those, the more you can get a feel for the greens that you're putting on out here, the better. That's where I've really tried to spend most of my time at the moment.

Q. You missed the cut in Abu Dhabi, but nonetheless, a solid second round 68. What did you learn from that experience?
CHRIS WOOD: I was probably mentally quite rusty on the first day. Let three or four shots go, which I wouldn't necessarily have done if it was sort of midway through the season.

But then the second day, I felt I was right back on it, and it was an easy 68 for me, really. So even though I missed the cut and came away with a little bit of confidence because I've never really done well there, but I showed enough to feel like my game is in pretty good shape coming into this week.

Q. Just finally, away from golf, Bristol City, 20th in the championship, can they stay up?
CHRIS WOOD: Oh, they will stay up. In October, I think they might have been about fifth in the championship. You know, all the fans start thinking, Playoffs, promotion, Premier League, and it's just not happened. They are at a turning point now with, do they stick with the manager or do they change.

The owner, Steve Lansdown, made the statement yesterday, and hopefully things can turn around and consolidate on it this year and build on it next year.

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