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Wentworth king Chris Wood eyes Ryder Cup debut

Chris Wood plans on bookending his summer with Wentworth glory and a Ryder Cup debut. Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

VIRGINIA WATER, England -- If at first you don't succeed, try again.

On his BMW PGA Championship debut in 2010, Chris Wood led by two after day three at Wentworth before a final-round 77 saw the then 22-year-old forced to settle for a tie for 6th place -- a tumble down the leaderboard that cost him his maiden European Tour title and around half a million pounds in prize money.

The following year yielded a missed cut for Wood. But there aren't many who work harder than the 6-foot-5 Bristolian. Indeed, Danny Willett once said in an interview that he and Wood were always the first in the gym each morning. 6am. On the dot.

Since then -- an injury withdrawal in 2013 aside -- he has slowly worked his way up the final leaderboard to finish 49th in 2012, 21st in 2014, fourth in 2015 and, the final payoff, top of the pile.

It was an emotional victory for Wood, who shot into the public eye when he finished in a tie for 5th as an amateur at the 2008 Open Championship and has since won two European Tour titles at the 2013 Qatar Masters and 2015 Lyoness Open. Tears in his eyes, he told reporters: "It's huge, because my friends and family are here. To win in front of them is unreal."

But it's likely Wood will get a rollicking from his family when they head out for a celebratory dinner somewhere in this affluent corner of Surrey on Sunday evening. After reaching the turn in a record-equalling 29 to move to 12-under-par and lead by four, the wheels started to come off slightly with bogeys at 10, 14, 16 and 17 threatening to derail his chances. Indeed, Wood's dad was overheard saying he was worried he would have a heart attack and distract his son. It was that sort of day.

Not that Wood knew.

"I didn't look at a leaderboard all day but when you are making lots of birdies on a tricky day you know you are there or thereabouts.

"On the 18th I had 196 yards to the front and I immediately thought six iron, but my caddie said 'Do you want to know the situation?'

"I said I'll put it in your hands and he said I'd like you to lay up. It seems silly hitting sand wedge, sand wedge into 18 but as soon as he told me to lay up, I knew probably five was enough. I can rest easy now and enjoy it now."

And enjoy it he will. Now that he can finally include himself among Wentworth's star-studded list of champions, he can start to look forward to a summer that will see him head to the remaining three majors and World Golf Championships, possibly climaxing in a Ryder Cup debut as part of Darren Clarke's team at Hazeltine in September.

"I played in the EurAsia Cup at the start of the year and Darren was captain there," Wood said, visibly excited by the prospect. "The videos he played in our team room, they give you goosebumps, and things like that really work for me.

"Being a Ryder Cup year, this is a good one to win. That's the biggest thing I'll take from this. Just giving myself a chance now. That's all I ever wanted this season was just to give myself a chance to try and qualify, and this has done it.

"There is three or four months of golf left to play where other players can win other big events to knock me out, so I've got to keep pushing and keep pushing."

And if he doesn't succeed? "As I've always done, I'll try again."