During those dark years Woosnam frequently played the Safari Tour, a six-week tour in Kenya, Zambia, Nigeria and the Ivory Coast. "It was a nightmare sometimes," he says. "You'd get diarrhea, and the weather was so bad. I was fortunate. I always had a place to stay. So many lads went out one time that there wasn't enough people to house them, and they got stuck in a hotel without air-conditioning and mosquito nets. I remember one poor lad, he slept in the bath, in water. He couldn't get the mosquitos away."
In 1981, Woosnam finished eighth in Africa, a performance that raised his hopes that he might qualify for the Italian Open. "I was playing well, so I thought, It looks like I'm going to start doing well this year," he says. When he failed to qualify for the Italian, the blow almost finished him.
"Every year I had improved a little bit, but that was the worst year I had," recalls Woosnam. "That was the time I thought I wanted to just give up and apply for a club job. It was a disaster."
Woosnam, however, is not a quitter, so the next year, 1982, he returned to Africa. One day on the practice tee at the Nigerian Open he was hitting shots alongside Gordon J. Brand, a Yorkshire pro who had won the Ivory Coast Open in 1981. "I was hitting every ball within a few yards of the caddie," says Woosnam, "and Gordon was all over the place—over the fence, 30 yards right—but he was shooting 68s and I was shooting 78s. I said to meself, I'm going to go all out and hope for the best."
Woosnam went on to finish second in Nigeria, and from that point on he began to relax. His terrible temper dissipated. He learned to live with his bad shots, and he became, by his own description, "more pleasant on the golf course." His scores improved immediately. He finished third on the African circuit that year, automatically qualifying for the Italian Open, in which he tied for second. "That was my breakthrough, really," he says. He got his first victory a few months later at the Swiss Open.
"I think you've got to have a fiery temperament, though," he says. "If you're bad-tempered, you've got that drive to win. There's not one top professional golfer I know that hasn't got a bad temper. They're holding it in all the time. The only one I suppose that hasn't is Lyle. In fact, if Sandy had a temper, he'd be the best player in the world."
Joan looks upon her son's difficult years as an apprenticeship. "Everybody's got to learn his trade, whatever he goes into," she says. "I think it's just as well to have done it as he has done it."
By 1983, with his prospects brightening at last, Woosnam was ready to settle down. He renewed his courtship of Glendryth Pugh, whom he had known since their childhood in St. Martins. He bought a flat in London to be near Glen, who was working as a nurse at St. Thomas' Hospital there. They were married in November 1984. Woosnam sold his flat, and the couple moved back to Oswestry.
Glen, now the mother of Daniel, 2, and expecting another child in June, is a no-nonsense housewife. She keeps their five-bedroom house spotless, a toddler who takes after his father out of trouble and her fun-loving husband toeing the mark. "Never get fed if I'm at home," says Ian good-naturedly, as he digs into his "fry-up" in the Llanymynech clubhouse one rainy day. "Too busy cleaning the house. My missus cleans the house every single day. She drives me nuts. You don't talk to her when she's cleaning the house. I hate the sound of a Hoover, honestly. I have dreams about it."
When the roar of the Hoover drives him out of the house, Woosnam retreats to the snooker room with its 100-year-old table in the new guest house, which also has a bar, a trophy room, a sauna, a whirlpool and a satellite dish. A window in the north wall overlooks the town cricket ground. "You can sit in nice comfortable chairs and watch the cricket match," says Woosnam, surveying his domain. "It'll be nice when come home on a Monday. I can get a few lads around, have a few drinks." He even talks of adding a covered swimming pool to the garden on the south side of the house. "If you're happy, money makes you happier, doesn't it?" he says.