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When Tiger Woods Won at Hoylake Without His Driver

By: | Mon 17 Jul 2023

UNTIL later in his career, Tiger Woods was never a golfer to show a great deal of emotion when winning majors, but Royal Liverpool in 2006 was different.

The American produced an imperious display of strategic links golf to mark the return of Hoylake as host of The Open for the first time in 39 years. And after holing the winning putt he fell into the arms of his caddie, Steve Williams, and cried.

The reason? It was his first major win since the death of his beloved father, Earl.

A vast gallery of almost 230,000, the second-highest ever at the time, also appreciated the return of a venue so close to Liverpool and enjoyed the glorious weather.

A  heatwave meant a fast-running links that was brown in colour. And Woods decided that he had no need of a driver, using it only once in 72 holes, missing the fairway at the par-five 16th in the first round but still making a birdie.

Instead, Woods took the treacherous bunkers out of play by laying up from the tee and produced a masterclass in long and mid-iron play. It was reminiscent of his performance in winning at St Andrews six years earlier when, remarkably, he negotiated 72 holes without finding a single bunker at the Old Course.

After an opening 67 that left him one off the lead, he was one of three players, along with Chris DiMarco and Ernie Els, to set a new record for Opens at Royal Liverpool with a 65. At the 14th he holed out with a four iron from 212 yards for an eagle two. Who needs a driver?

He led from Friday morning onwards but never ran away from the field. Sergio Garcia had a 65, including an eagle two at the second, to join DiMarco and Els just one adrift with a round to play.

It was DiMarco, just as at the 2005 Masters, who pushed Woods hardest in the final round and it took three birdies in a row from the 14th for Woods to finally shake off his compatriot.

A closing 67 gave him a two-stroke victory, with Els third and Garcia dropping to joint-fifth. Woods, the first Champion to defend successfully since Tom Watson in 1983, showed his emotions on the 18th green. His father, Earl, had died two months earlier.

“I wish he could have seen this one last time,” Tiger said.

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Tags: tiger woods tiger The Open Championship The Open Royal Liverpool

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