By Derek Lawrenson for the Daily Mail
Published: 21:11 BST, 1 July 2019 | Updated: 21:11 BST, 1 July 2019
Three months ago, Chris Wood was feeling so addled by golf he walked off a course mid-round for the first time in his life and out of the Morocco Open. Two days later, he suffered a pain in his neck so sharp it was too sore to rest his head on a pillow.
A Ryder Cup player as recently as 2016, the tall Bristolian has used the spring-time wisely to heal physically and mentally. This week, the 31-year-old begins his comeback at the Irish Open at Lahinch.
It says everything about the dark places he visited during a rough spell on the course — he hasn’t made a penny this season — that he came to look upon the neck problem as a blessing.
England's Chris Wood has used the spring-time wisely to heal physically and mentally
‘I’ll be honest, it felt like a great time to get away from the game,’ he said. ‘It’s such a mentally demanding sport. From the outside, people see you finishing in the top 30 every year, but I knew I was a long way off, and getting into horrendous technical positions in my swing. It gets to the point where mentally you can’t take much more.
‘I couldn’t switch off and I was bringing it home with me. My wife and I were having tough conversations you never imagine you’d be having. Thank goodness she’s so supportive.’
Wood’s neck injury was the third he’d suffered in as many years, but this time the cause has been found.
‘I have a bulging disc, and if you’re 6ft 6in, swinging a club over 100mph and hitting tens of thousands of balls in practice, something is going to give,’ he said. ‘It’s basically a case of managing it and knowing that on a lot of days now I’m not going to be able to practise after a round. That’s hard for me,