EDITOR’S NOTE — This story first ran ahead of the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, won by Rory McIlroy.
You remember the 2006 Open at Royal Liverpool, right? The one where Tiger Woods hit one driver the entire week and cried more in one minute than he probably had in his entire life? But there was more to that memorable final round. We re-watched it and made some observations.
• Tiger Woods was AMAZING. We have to start with that. He was so good he had even Nick Faldo gushing with compliments:
“This has been a master class of tactitional golf. It’s really been fantastic to watch.”
Later, Faldo described Woods’ ball striking as “sheer perfection.” Woods didn’t hit a driver the final three days and still finished 18 under to win his third claret jug and 11th professional major.
• Paul Azinger also liked Woods’ conservative game plan. “Who knows, maybe Tiger Woods will change his strategy from now until the rest of time and rein it in a little bit.” Hmm. It didn’t exactly happen like that, but there were times with Woods applied prudence over aggression.
• Of course, course conditions had something to do with Woods’ strategy. There are firm and fast golf courses and then there was Hoylake.
• Chris DiMarco played incredibly, duelling with Woods at a major for the second year in a row. He took Tiger to a playoff at the 2005 Masters, but losing by two to Tiger at the top of his game was just as impressive. We talk a lot about big names hurt by playing in the Tiger Woods era, but was anyone as singularly affected as DiMarco? Chris DiMarco, two-time major champion has a nice ring to it.
• On the other hand, Sergio Garcia, who was in the final pairing with Woods, played terribly. He shot a front-nine 39 (four over) to lose any chance of catching Tiger. It was the start of a series of unfortunate finishes at the Open for the Spaniard.
• When Woods was challenged, he played even better. DiMarco cut the lead to one, but Tiger made birdies on 14, 15, and 16. Game, set, match.
• Woods was relatively reserved in his reactions throughout the day. This is him holing a putt for eagle on No. 5. Ho-hum:
• To make up for his lack of celebrating, Tiger twirled his club on almost every shot. He gives his first really good one as he hits his approach shot on No. 2. Watch a compilation of his round here. You can count the non-perfect shots Woods hit on one hand:
• Speaking of fashion, Garcia looked preposterous dressed as a human banana.
• Not that Jim Furyk’s shirt was any better. Are those supposed to look like suspenders? Yeah, we’re making a similar face right now.
• It looked weird seeing Adam Scott putting with a normal putter. We’ll spare you a picture because it wasn’t pretty.
• There was a delay on No. 18 due to protesters dumping purple paint on the green. Luckily, the tournament had all but been decided.
• And finally, there was the special moment of victory, where Woods—whose father, Earl, passed away two months before—shared an emotional embrace with caddie Steve Williams. It was all very moving, but you have to wonder: What do those two guys think when they see these images now?