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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 July 2006, 17:24 GMT 18:24 UK
Hoylake, 20-23 July 2006

By Matt Slater
BBC Sport at Hoylake

Tiger Woods breaks down in tears after knocking in his putt on the final green
Woods has had to cope with the recent loss of his father
Tiger Woods won his third Open title and 11th career major with a consummate display of control and precision on Royal Liverpool's hard-baked links.

The defending champion, Woods finished on 18 under, two shots ahead of Chris DiMarco and five clear of Ernie Els.

DiMarco tried to provide a dramatic finish and at one stage reduced his Ryder Cup team-mate's lead to just one.

But that excitement was only temporary as Woods immediately responded with cushion-restoring birdies.

Having been the very definition of steely determination for the entire week, Woods broke into tears after tapping in for par at the last and shared emotional embraces with his caddie Steve Williams, wife Elin and coach Hank Haney.

This may have been major number 11 for the remarkable American but it was major number one for him without having his father Earl to celebrate with.

Woods' sporting inspiration died in May and the world number one took nine weeks out of the game to grieve.

Missing the cut in his first event back, the US Open, prompted some to question how Earl's absence would affect Tiger. The answer has been emphatic this week.

"Stevie (Williams) said to me as we were coming up the last, 'this one is for dad'," said the 30-year-old, who carded a 67.

I just miss my dad so much... I wish he could have been here to witness this

Tiger Woods

"And then, after the putt, all these emotions just poured out of me. They have been locked in there.

"I just miss my dad so much. I wish he could have been here to witness this.

"He enjoyed watching me grind out major wins and this would have brought a smile to his face."

Woods then congratulated his friend DiMarco on a typically dogged display. A performance all the more impressive as the New Yorker, who was also second to Woods at the 2005 Masters, has recently lost his mother.

The two men have swapped kind words all week and it was perhaps fitting that it should be DiMarco who ran Woods closest on a day that almost but never quite reached the dramatic heights most had hoped for.

Sergio Garcia, given the thankless task of taking on Woods one-on-one, saw his challenge falter almost from the off.

Brilliant on the front nine on Saturday, the 26-year-old Spaniard was woeful on the front nine on Sunday.

A fine striker of the ball, Garcia is suspect on the greens, particularly under pressure.

And so it proved here as shots were dropped on the 2nd and 3rd. By the time Woods holed a superb eagle putt at the long 5th his one-shot overnight advantage over Garcia had become a five-shot gap in little over an hour of play.

That eagle also knocked the wind out of Els' challenge.

The 36-year-old South African, playing alongside DiMarco in the group ahead, had birdied the same hole to join Woods on 13 under.

That would be as low as Ernie would go as he struggled to rediscover the form he showed in matching Woods on Friday.

Tiger Woods looks at the Claret Jug after winning it for a third time
Woods is one major closer to Jack Nicklaus' record of 18

Two one-under 71s at the weekend were never going to be enough to beat his old nemesis.

Hoped-for challenges from others also failed to materialise. Experienced American Jim Furyk struggled before a late rally lifted him into fourth place on 12 under.

And Angel Cabrera's attempt to emulate Argentine compatriot Roberto de Vincenzo's win here in 1967 - the last time Hoylake hosted an Open - was irretrievably damaged by a triple-bogey seven at the 2nd.

Far better challenges came from two unheralded sources, Japan's Hideto Tanihara and Anders Romero, another Argentine. There was, however, to be no Ben Curtis-style story as they both stalled at 11 under, Romero later sliding to nine under.

World number six Adam Scott found some form only to drop three shots over the last two holes. The Australian remains an unproven performer on the biggest stage.

Not that British observers should take any comfort from that.

It is now seven years and 28 majors since a domestic player last won a major - Paul Lawrie's Open victory at Carnoustie in 1999.

That same year, Jose Maria Olazabal won the Masters and a 19-year-old Garcia gave Woods a scare at the USPGA. Europe is still waiting to celebrate another champion.

There was some consolation, however, when Norway's Marius Thorp claimed the Silver Medal for the lowest amateur.

The best-placed British player here was 31-year-old Londoner Anthony Wall. His eight-under-par total was good enough for a share of 11th.

He should be delighted but the much-touted Paul Casey, Luke Donald, David Howell and others saw their chances disappear days ago.


For Woods, this week has been another superlative effort. He makes it look so easy it is sometimes difficult to appreciate just how good he is.

Woods, the best front-runner in sport, has now won 11 of 11 majors he has led after 54 holes and seven of seven after 36 holes.

He is now tied with Walter Hagen in second place in the major-winners stakes, seven behind Jack Nicklaus' haul of 18.

The Golden Bear's record was once considered insurmountable but Woods has won 11 majors two years younger than Nicklaus was when he claimed his 11th, the 1972 US Open.

The California-born star is only the 19th player in Open history to win three Claret Jugs and he is the first man to win back-to-back Opens since Tom Watson in 1982 and 1983.

There was one other winner here this week, Hoylake. Out of the loop for 39 years, many had worried the old course could not hack it anymore.

Well, they were wrong. The links played hard but fair, the sun shone, the crowds came in their thousands and everybody said they wanted to see the Wirral venue back on the rotation. Over to you R&A.

Open diary
23 Jul 06 |  Golf
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