Woods claims his second Open title at St Andrews
Tiger Woods’ mastery of the Old Course and of the world’s leading players was an almost exact repeat of his performance at St Andrews in the Millennium Open.
He dominated play throughout the four days of the Championship, opening with rounds of 66-67, then had to fight hard in tough conditions on the third day for a 71 before adding the final flourish with a 70 and a five-shot victory over Colin Montgomerie.
The expected challenge from the Scot, which gained momentum over the opening holes to tumultuous applause from the packed grandstands, ran into the buffers when he dropped a shot at the short 11th and from that point on all thoughts of a home victory evaporated.
In a week of superlative golf, with record numbers of eagles scored in warm and sunny conditions, there was no staying power in the opposition to the new champion from such giants of the modern game as Masters and USPGA winner Vijay Singh, US Open champion Michael Campbell, double Masters winner Jose Maria Olazabal, Sergio Garcia, and two-time US Open victor Retief Goosen. They were all in position to affect the outcome on the final afternoon. None rose to the occasion.
Woods played throughout with iron control, using his full power sparingly and preferring to target the safe areas away from the dangerous bunkers that pepper the Old Course. It was a well deserved victory.
The Championship also marked the final appearance of Jack Nicklaus, winner of the title over the Old Course in 1970 and 1978. Vast crowds lined every inch of the great amphitheatre of the 18th hole to say goodbye to golf’s most prolific champion. Among those watching were many of his fellow players and champions, all wanting to witness a moment of golfing history.
With his son Steve carrying the bag and wife Barbara and the rest of the family looking on from the steps of The Royal and Ancient, he drove just short of the green and, in typical St Andrews style, putted through the Valley of Sin beyond the flag. Somehow it was inevitable that he would hole the curling left-to-right 18-footer for a final birdie.
With the Tom Morris clock on the Royal and Ancient clubhouse showing precisely six o’clock, the golfing career of Jack Nicklaus had finally come to a close.