Flashback – Open Championship 2006

This entry was posted on Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Tiger who came to Tee

This weekend’s Open Championship will return to Royal Hoylake in Liverpool, eight years on from the last time the Claret Jug was hoisted aloft in the city. Back then, it was Tiger Woods doing the hoisting (and plenty of it as we were to later find out), the middle of a run which had seen him win the previous year’s Open at St Andrews by five shots, and the following month’s PGA Championship at Medinah by the same margin. Woods’ victories were routine – the sport had become boring, said the pundits.

Oh what those same pundits would give for a Tiger victory this weekend. The three-time champion goes off at 24 (lay that all day with Betfair) tomorrow, way behind the likes of Henrik Stenson who has never even won a Major. Yet the coverage hasn’t reflected that at all, with press conference extracts of Woods claiming he can win here, leading the back pages. It is almost as if the media are willing him on – if he can believe that they believe – maybe he can believe.

But the Tiger of 2014 is a mollusc of the 2006 version. His victory back then was a masterclass in course management, repeatedly laying up short of the bunkers, and relying on his phenomenal long iron play to leave sinkable puts. He only drove the ball once all weekend.

Hindsight is a great thing. Here was the Daily Mail’s golf correspondent the morning after his victory:

“Eleven majors drew Tiger level with Walter Hagen in second place on the all-time list, chasing Jack Nicklaus’s total of 18.  When he returns to these parts, he will probably have removed every last question as to who is the greatest player who ever lived.”

Au contraire.

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