9 Reasons Why Tiger Woods’ 2006 British Open Win Was His Greatest-Ever Open

July 15, 2014

The 2014 British Open returns to Royal Liverpool, the site of Tiger Woods’ 2006 Open win. Here are nine reasons why his victory at Royal Liverpool was the greatest of his three Open titles.

1. His Course Management Was Magnificent

Tiger on the ninth tee in the second round of the 2006 British Open (John Biever/SI)

After realizing his drives were going too far at the brown, baked-out course — “How can you control a drive that goes 375 yards?” — Woods replaced his 5-wood with a 2-iron, hit the big dog only once in four days, and didn’t hit into a single fairway bunker.

2. It Was His Second-Straight British Open Win

The final scoreboard at the 2005 British Open at St. Andews (Getty Images).

Woods, playing a course he’d never seen before — Royal Liverpool hadn’t hosted an Open since Roberto DeVicenzo won there in 1967 — became the first player since Tom Watson (1982-’83) to successfully defend his British Open title.

3. He Only Missed Three Shots All Week

Tiger Woods makes an eagle putt on 18 in the first round of the 2006 British Open (Robert Beck/SI).

Because Woods’ iron play was so good, he and then-caddie Steve Williams actually counted the number of missed shots the entire week. Their total: three. “I don’t think anyone has ever hit long irons that well,” the veteran caddie Williams said.

4. He Lost His Father That Spring

Tiger Woods and his father Earl at the 2004 Target World Challenge (Getty Images).

Woods was only a month removed from a nine-week break from the Tour to cope with the cancer death of his father Earl. And in Woods’ only action before Hoylake — at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot — he was so off he missed the cut by three.

5. Major No. 11 Made Him Second on the All-Time List

Tiger Woods holds the Claret Jug after winning the 2006 British Open (John Biever/SI).

Hoylake marked Woods’ mind-boggling 11th major victory at the ripe old age of 30, leveling him with Walter Hagen at second on the career list behind the great Jack Nicklaus (18).

6. We Can’t Remember Who Else Played

Tiger Woods and Ernie Els shakes hands on 18 after the third round of the 2006 Open (Fred Vuich/SI).

Even though Graeme McDowell broke the course record with an opening-round 66, and Woods, Chris DiMarco, Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia all beat that record by shooting 65s, Woods was so good we barely remember those other guys were even playing.

7. Everything Didn’t Go Right for Him

Tiger Woods misses a birdie putt on 14 in the third round of the 2006 British Open (Fred Vuich/SI).

While Woods methodically dismantled the course, not everything went right for him. His first setback: a botched two-foot par putt on the first hole Thursday. He also three-putted three times on the back nine Saturday, when he shot a pedestrian 71.

8. He Was a Closer on Sunday

Tiger Woods was paired with Sergio Garcia in the final round of the 2006 British Open (John Biever/SI).

When DiMarco refused to go away on Sunday, Woods — who had won their sudden-death playoff at the 2005 Masters –reeled off birdies on 14, 15 and 16 to leave absolutely no doubt.

9. He Showed Us He Was Human Too

Tiger Woods and Steve Williams after Woods' 2006 Open win (SI).

After his two-shot victory over DiMarco (68), Woods did the most human thing we’ve seen him do: he broke down. "It just came pouring out of me, all the things my dad meant to me, and the game of golf,” he said after sobbing on Williams’ shoulder. “I just wish [Earl] could have seen it one more time."

For more news that golfers everywhere are talking about, follow @si_golf on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube video channel.