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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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."