A three-time Champion Golfer at The Open, Tiger Woods has long been established as an all-time sporting great.
Our thoughts are with Tiger and his family as he recovers from a car accident on Tuesday. As a reminder of his extraordinary talent, we look back on his trio of dominant victories in golf’s original Championship.
The 129th Open at St Andrews, 20-23 July 2000
Woods has spent an astonishing 683 weeks at the top of the Official World Golf Rankings, but he has surely never been more dominant than he was in 2000, the year of his first success in The Open.
The American arrived at St Andrews as an overwhelming favourite following a scarcely believable 15-shot win in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
After shooting a 66 on day one at St Andrews to lead Woods by one, Ernie Els - a joint runner-up at Pebble Beach - prompted laughter as he told reporters: “If he beats me by 15 from now, there should be an inquiry!”
While that margin of victory proved beyond Woods, the World Number One once again proved a class above his rivals, finishing eight clear of Els and Thomas Bjorn with a record-breaking total of 19 under par.
After starting the Championship with eight straight pars, Woods remained bogey-free over the first 36 holes and opened up a three-shot advantage as he followed a first-day 67 with a super 66.
Another 67 on Saturday put him six clear with 18 holes to play and, although playing partner David Duval initially threatened to set up a grandstand finish in the final round, Woods ultimately surged further clear with a closing 69 to provide further evidence of his rare talent.
“It certainly looks like somebody out there is playing golf on a different planet than the rest of us,” said Bjorn of Woods, who did not find a single bunker all week.
Victory enabled the sport’s biggest star to achieve a career Grand Slam at the age of 24, while his subsequent wins at the PGA Championship and 2001 Masters completed a ‘Tiger Slam’ that saw Woods hold all four major titles at once.
The 134th Open at St Andrews, 14-17 July 2005
Five years later, Woods returned to St Andrews and became only the fifth player, after Bob Martin, JH Taylor, James Braid and Jack Nicklaus, to win two Opens at the home of golf.
On this occasion, his margin of victory was five shots rather than eight, but there were many similarities between the two triumphs.
In 2000, Woods had opened up a three-shot lead with round of 66 and 67. This time, those scores were reversed and Tiger found himself four clear of his nearest rival, Colin Montgomerie, at 11 under.
Home favourite Montgomerie and Jose Maria Olazabal each put up strong challenges over the weekend, applying more pressure to Woods than he had faced in the course of his previous Open victory.
Indeed, when Montgomerie birdied the ninth hole on Sunday to complete an outward 33, the Scot was just one shot off the lead and prompting huge excitement among the galleries.
However, as Montgomerie and Olazabal faded over the back nine, both men coming home in 39 strokes, Woods remained typically solid down the stretch and secured another ultimately convincing success.
A final-day 70 for Woods completed an aggregate total of 14 under, putting him five clear of Montgomerie as Olazabal finished a shot further back alongside Fred Couples.
"It's as good as it gets,” said the Champion. “I battled this week. I battled conditions, battled the field, battled the golf course and somehow came out on top."
The 135th Open at Royal Liverpool, 20-23 July 2006
Woods successfully defended the Claret Jug at a sun-baked Royal Liverpool, achieving an emotional victory less than three months after the passing of his father and mentor, Earl.
A summer heatwave had resulted in an extremely fast-running links at Hoylake and Woods delivered a strategic masterclass, using the driver only once all week as he instead relied on his exceptional long-iron play.
He once again started strongly and led by one from Els after rounds of 67 and 65 over the first two days.
However, Woods then suffered uncharacteristic struggles on the greens on the penultimate day, three-putting on three occasions.
Although a one-under 71 kept him at the head of the field on 13 under, Woods began the final day with plenty of big names close behind him. Els, Sergio Garcia and Chris DiMarco were all just a single shot back, with Angel Cabrera and Jim Furyk two off the pace with 18 to play.
DiMarco would prove the main challenger to Woods on Sunday, fighting back from an opening bogey with five birdies in a 68 that lifted him to 16 under.
Yet although the gutsy DiMarco frequently put the pressure on Woods, the defending Champion always had the answers.
An eagle at the fifth gave Tiger breathing space in a bogey-free front nine and, after he followed a birdie at 10 with a dropped shot at the 12th, Woods charged to the winning line with a trio of consecutive gains from the 14th.
After sinking a tap-in par putt on the final green to complete a two-shot victory with a 67, Woods broke down in tears in the arms of his caddie, Steve Williams, as he reflected on his first major triumph since his father’s death.
"At that moment, it just came pouring out, all the things that my father has meant to me in the game of golf. And I just wish he could have seen it one more time,” said Woods.