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May 23, 2017

Chris Wood

Surrey, England

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Welcome, Chris Wood, to your defence of the BMW PGA Championship. Obviously it's special to defend anytime, but this one is home. Give us your thoughts on your defence.

CHRIS WOOD: Yeah, great to be back. Every player looks forward to this event from the start *of the season. It really is a highlight of our year.

To have the privilege to win last year and come back here this year as defending champion is, yeah, it's a great achievement for me I feel and hopefully can lead on to bigger and better things, as it did last year.

This was sort of the start of a decent run of golf over summer for me which led to my Ryder Cup debut. I used come here watching this event when I was 15, 16 years old, and just dreamt of playing in it, really.

So to sit here as the defending champion this year and seeing all the -- well, all the life-size, almost life-size images of me around the course is awesome.

So hopefully those sort of good memories can sort of spark some more good golf for me this week.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: A quick word on the golf course. I know you've seen the changes and obviously very impressed.

CHRIS WOOD: Yeah, played a couple of weeks ago here, on one of the first days that we were allowed to play and it struck me as soon as I walked on to the first green, really. Not a mark on the greens. We weren't even allowed to do our own pitchmarks. Very different. You could hear the SubAir working and obviously 34 bunkers taken out I think, which is a massive change.

I think the overriding thing, really, for players will be the greens. We know how hard it is this time of year in the U.K. to get perfect greens, and it seems like Wentworth have done everything possible to be able to produce that for us this week, and it's nice to see changes, as well, that affect, like amateur golfers, because it's not just about us for this one week.

It's about amateurs playing here and enjoying their golf and not walking off the 18th green feeling hammered and battered by the round of golf they have played. So I'm all for the changes.

Q. When you go to a WGC or a major now, and bearing in mind that you like the course that's changed, do you think you will become an advocate for players like Sergio to play this event in the field to get an even better field? As a past champion, are you going to become part of the sales team almost to say this is an event worth coming?
CHRIS WOOD: Yeah I'll always do that. I don't know if they will listen to me. I don't know if I've got quite enough pull to make players like Sergio change his mind maybe.

But yeah, I mean, of course we'd like to see every single top European player here, but you know, I mean, Sergio has just taken, what, a month off and that sort of thing after the Masters.

It's the same thing every year for some players where they say their schedule is this that and the other. This week, the field is incredible. Obviously disappointing that Rory had to withdraw an injury, but barring that, you know, Henrik's here, Justin's here. We've got a great field of European players, and it's only going to get better as the course changes improve.

Q. How quickly does that course change news go through the range on the next few tournaments? Does it actually -- does the buzz happen that way on the range?
CHRIS WOOD: Yeah, it's probably even faster through like Twitter these days. I know Paul McGinley, he had a lot to do with the changes, and before I came a couple weeks ago, he Tweeted a couple pictures with it and it looked immaculate. Just from that, I thought, wow, that looks incredible. I want to go play it. It's probably a mix of both these days.

Q. How do you feel when you see those enormous pictures of yourself along with so many other players? Does it give you a sense of belonging that you deserve to be up there?
CHRIS WOOD: Yeah, I think so. Obviously the back of 18 as we were coming in, four or five players, and there's the big one of me, you know, yeah, it's great. But I want to be seeing myself on those things every tournament and every week. Particularly here, it's an English event.

Obviously I'm an English player and feel like I'm part of a generation that's coming through now. There are sort of ten of us now in my age group that have come through amateur golf together and come on to The European Tour and broken into the Top-50 in the world; some of us playing Ryder Cup and things like that all at the same time.

You know, if it was tennis, it would be global news and golf really deserves a lot more credit for the standard of English golf. I know we're working hard at promoting the game in different ways but the standard of English golf is really as high as it's ever been though.

Q. Is that a frustration that you don't get the recognition that you deserve?
CHRIS WOOD: Yeah, I buy a paper quite often and look at the back pages, the sport, and the wife looks at all the gossip and I just get all the sport pages. But when you read about players that are 100th in the world, but they are ranked No. 2 in tennis in the U.K. and things like that, it is quite frustrating, because we're working just as hard as they are.

Golf is one of our biggest national games. I mean, Rory McIlroy's British. He's arguably the best player in the world, and other sports, No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 players in the world take more limelight, but Rory is just a great ambassador. You can't have a better ambassador for our game, and he deserves to be sort of flying the golf flag a lot more really.

Q. Just on the chains to the golf course, what effect do you think it will have on scoring this week? I know weather has an effect but all things being equal.
CHRIS WOOD: I think there could be close to a shot on the greens --

Q. Harder or easier?
CHRIS WOOD: Easier. When I played, they are a lot truer. The surfaces are immaculate. So I think last year, they might have had two different grasses growing at different rates and things like that. So you do get the odd bobble. You hit a putt just outside right edge that you can see and it doesn't move, that sort of thing.

But the greens seem to be rolling very true, and then obviously 34 bunkers being taken out is a massive change. For me, it's between one and two shots easier a round. It's a bit of a guess. You know, I think, like you say, weather depending, but I think my 9- or 10-under par won last year. I'd think you have to be 15-under par this year to have a chance.

Q. Would you be happy to see attendance at this event compulsory for all European Tour Members to be sure everyone turns up in the future?
CHRIS WOOD: I don't think you'll ever get to that stage. It's probably a fine line in between, you know, players supporting or traveling back from America when they can to forcing them. They are assets to the tour, players like that, and they know it. That's fair enough. But I feel like, you know, with the launch of the Rolex Series, the Tour will see the support, no doubt.

Q. Just ask you a more general one, about events in Manchester and everything that's going on in the world, atmosphere in the locker room is it different?
CHRIS WOOD: Yeah, definitely, it's horrible. I've got a three-month old now, so it feels like it hits home a lot harder when you know that there's children involved at a concert like that.

So yeah, it's a very somber feeling this morning, and golf seems fairly insignificant, really.

Q. On a much less significant note, you won an i8, and then followed up the following year by winning this championship, and then this year, there's another i8 but for an albatross on the 18th. What do you think about that and do you think you've got a good chance?
CHRIS WOOD: Well, it needs to be a bit bigger; I can fit then. Yeah, I think that's a great idea on 18, because if I was coming here to watch and sitting in the stand, I want to see guys going for the green in two. I want to see guys hitting it in the water. I want to see guys make an eagle.

That's one of the changes that they have made this time. They have taken out a middle bunker behind the green and I think it's a grass bunker now, so it sort of might seem a bit easier to the eye to go for the second shot.

So yeah, I mean, when there's a beautiful car sat behind the green in view of your second shot, it might just convince you to just ignore your caddie and just say, oh, give me the 3-iron or something.

Yeah, it's a great idea.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Chris has got a nice announcement to ends the day.

CHRIS WOOD: If anyone was interested, my Ryder Cup bag last year, I got it signed by all the players and I'm putting it up for auction on eBay for a local charity I support at home, the children's hospice southwest and trying to raise some money for them by auctioning my Ryder Cup bag signed by all the players. So, yeah, just wanted to get that one in.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: I'm sure we'll all support you on that, Chris. Great cause. Good luck with your defence, and thank you very much, as always.

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