Tiger Woods is no stranger to being in the spotlight at The Open Championship but the Royal Liverpool stage saw an emotional side not often shown by the 15-time major winner in 2006.
Returning to Hoylake this year as the final major of the year, Woods’ emotional victory to collect his third Claret Jug remains one of the most memorable moments in tournament history.
It was the first time a player had been held back in a major since Tom Watson won in 1982 and 1983.
It carries more significance as it is his third and final win at the Open Championship after victories in 2000 and 2005.
But a win at Hoylake means more than just a big win. It was a tribute to his father, the Earl.
Tiger Woods wins his third Claret Jug at the 2006 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool
The golf legend broke down in tears in an emotional scene on the 18th green at Hoylake
The victory marked his first major victory since the death of his father Earl two months earlier
Earl had died of prostate cancer just two months before the tournament, and the win marked Woods’ first major since losing his father.
Woods had a close relationship with his father, a man who transformed his son from golfing prodigy to global superstar, who transformed the game.
Earl’s legacy to his son – methodical, clean and precise play – could be seen throughout Woods’ robotic dominance in the early 2000s but there was no greater evidence than the performance he gave on the Whylake stage.
‘[Dad] It’s always been about me thinking my way around the golf course and not letting emotion get the best of you, because that’s so easy to do in this game,’ Woods said after his win.
‘And use your mind to make your way around the golf course and if you have to deviate from the game plan, make sure it’s the right decision to do so. [Dad] I was determined to play like I have throughout my career.’
And Woods did just that at Royal Liverpool. He plays flawless golf that would make an Earl proud.
It even impressed Nick Faldo, who described Woods’ ball-striking as ‘sheer perfection’ and said: ‘It’s been a masterclass in tactical golf. It’s been really fantastic to watch.’
Dealing with Hoylake’s firm fairways and the River Dee’s often blustery winds, Woods hit driver only once all week and didn’t pull it out of the bag at all over the final three days.
Earl died of prostate cancer in May 2006, just two months before the tournament
He steered his son from golfing prodigy to global superstar (pictured in 1989)
Chris DeMarco, who also suffered from the recent loss of his mother, made a challenge for the second year in a row.
DeMarco battled the master at Woods in 2005, taking the great to a playoff before Woods eventually prevailed.
A year later at The Open, DeMarco led Woods by one but that only helped Woods play better as he birdied 14, 15, 16.
But no one else on the field even fought.
Woods was more reserved in his responses throughout the final round. He made a lone eagle on the fifth and no one knew he was solemnly raising his putter in the air.
He made up for the lack of feedback by swinging a club after every single beautifully struck shot.
But the incident finally came to a head as passion spilled over the 18th green.
Woods sank his championship-winning putt and tears streamed down his cheeks.
Woods sank his championship-winning putt and tears streamed down his cheeks
The 15-time major winner consoled his caddy Steve Williams after the win
A tearful Woods shares a hug with then-wife Elin Nordegren after his victory.
He shared an emotional hug with his caddy Steve Williams, who later revealed that as they walked down the 18th fairway, he turned to his player and said: ‘This is for dad.’
‘I’m someone who bottles things up a bit and moves on, tries to deal with things my own way,’ Woods said after the win.
‘But at that point it came pouring in and my dad wanted to convince me and golf and I wish he could have seen it one more time.’
Woods has provided the golf world with many tearful moments, notably his return to the 2019 Masters and his 2021 return to Augusta, 14 months after his horrific car accident, three years after his death.
Just last year he tugged at the heartstrings of patrons at St Andrews when he took a final walk down the 18th Old Course with tears in his eyes.
But he won’t do another replica at Royal Liverpool this week and it’s in serious doubt whether we’ll see another from him at The Open.
After the 150th Open last July, Woods himself admitted it might be his last at the home of golf.
‘Warmness and congratulations at 18, that’s what got to me,’ Woods said. ‘It’s very emotional for me. I’ve been coming here since 1995, and I don’t know when – I think the next one will come, 2030? – And I don’t know if I can physically play then.
He shared an emotional hug with Williams, who said: ‘This is for dad.’
‘So I feel like this might be my last British Open at St Andrews. And the fans, the warmth and warmth, it was an incredible feeling. They understand what golf is all about and what it takes to be an Open Champion
‘And I’ve been lucky enough and fortunate enough to have won it here twice (in 2000 and 2005). And it felt very emotional, because I don’t know how my health will be. And I feel like I can play the British Open in the future, but I don’t know if I can play long enough that when it comes back here, will I still be playing?’
And, while Woods won’t be at Hoyle this year, following ankle surgery following his Masters withdrawal in April, he still managed to reminisce about the ‘joyous’ victory.
Speaking in a video message after being recognized for ‘outstanding service to golf’ by the Association of Golf Writers on Tuesday night, Woods recalled the emotion of landing his third Claret Jug two months after his father’s death.
Last year, he tugged at the heartstrings of St Andrews patrons as he held back tears.
Woods may have his last drive over the famous Swilkan Bridge on the 18th
Woods said: ‘I’d just like to say that all my years playing the Open Championship, starting at St Andrews in 1995, have been some of the best moments, and greatest memories, I’ve had, not just in my golf career, but in my entire life.
‘I’ll run through some of them, starting with my win at 200 at St Andrews and winning again at the home of golf in 2005 and this week at Hoyle, where everyone is playing.
That week in 2006 was very emotional. It was the first championship I won without my father. It was a tough, tough week, but probably the most satisfying that I’ve experienced there.’
While Woods won’t grace the hallowed stage of The Open at Hoylake, the laser-focused legendary course and tournament will forever be remembered for providing one of the most memorable moments to date.
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