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'Weight off' Wood's shoulders with his first win

DARREN CLARKE was right after all - Bristol's Chris Wood does have what it takes to be a European Tour winner.

A closing 12-foot eagle putt gave Wood a thrilling first victory on the circuit at the Qatar Masters in Doha.

It came two years after he was four strokes clear with a round to play in Majorca but shot 76 and handed the title to stablemate Clarke.

"We don't have to worry about him - he will win and it will be sooner rather than later," said Clarke, who two months later became Open champion.

Wood, who a year earlier closed with a 76 when leading the BMW PGA Championship, had taken his total of top-10 finishes to 19, including three second places, when he stood on the final tee in Doha yesterday one behind Sergio Garcia and George Coetzee.

Having led by three at the start of the day, he was in grave danger of suffering more bitter disappointment.

Instead, however, he hit a 300-yard drive into perfect position, a towering six-iron over water to 12 feet and, after looking at the leaderboard for the first time all day, sank the putt.


"It feels amazing - a dream come true," said the 25-year-old, who came fifth in the 2008 Open as an amateur and then a year later missed out on the play-off between Tom Watson and Stewart Cink at Turnberry only by bogeying the final hole.

"I've been knocking on the door a few times and it's not happened.

"Winning on the European Tour is not easy. Now there's an enormous weight off my shoulders and I feel I can go on and win more.

"You don't get many chances in a play-off, so I knew that was my chance -- and I took it.

"I probably went to sleep about midnight and woke up probably three, four, five, six (times). I knew I was having a lot of support from all of the text messages - a couple of them woke me up at one o'clock in the morning!"

He and Garcia now move on to Dubai for the last leg of the Tour's three-week Desert Swing.