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The 151st Open

Tiger Woods


The world's top golfers remember an emotional victory at Royal Liverpool

Tiger Woods celebrates winning the 2006 Open

The 135th Open will live long in the memory for many reasons.  

An emotional Tiger Woods lifted the Claret Jug as he claimed a first major title after the death of his father Earl, while Royal Liverpool hosted the Championship for the first time in 39 years.  

Now, 17 years on from that success, Woods will be absent from Hoylake, still recovering from undergoing ankle surgery in April.  

But as has been the case since he first won the Silver Medal 50 miles up the coast at Royal Lytham & St Annes back in 1996, Woods always looms large.  

His success in 2006 was perhaps the most emotional of his career, the image of Tiger sobbing uncontrollably into the shoulder of caddy Steve Williams now iconic.  

"Stevie said to me as we were coming up the last, 'this one is for dad'," a then 30-year-old Woods said. "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," Woods added. "He enjoyed watching me grind out major wins, and this would have brought a smile to his face."  

Tiger Woods breaks down after winning a first major following the passing of his father

Earl Woods could not watch his son win his 11th major at Royal Liverpool, but it was a performance that inspired many of the players who are now challenging at the top of the game.  

For Matthew Jordan, the Royal Liverpool member who will have the honour of hitting the first tee shot of The 151st Open, simply being in the vicinity of Woods was a pinch-me moment.  

Jordan recalled: “He was my kind of hero, and being able to see him in the flesh and watching him do what he did, especially around your home course, was immense.  

“In 2006 I think I was more bothered about getting signatures than anything else and kind of star struck. I remember seeing Tiger in 2006 on the putting green, and I just could not approach him.  

“I think I saw him actually when it was in 2014, as well, and I still couldn't approach him then.”  

A 16-year-old Patrick Reed was another who had the chance to watch Woods in person in 2006, competing in, and winning The Junior Open in Heswall not far away from Royal Liverpool before heading along.  

At Heswall, Reed got the better of a certain Tommy Fleetwood, and while the Southport man did not see Woods’ exploits up close and personal, he did not miss a second of it on the television. 

Fleetwood recalled: “It was such a special Open performance from Tiger that year that people still talk about now and how -- we'd never seen this golf course play anything like that. 

“I think that's one of the biggest memories of it. You just remembered watching seeing how the course was playing and you'd never seen anything like it, and then Tiger's performance was clearly something people will remember forever.” 

For some of Reed’s compatriots, Woods’ 2006 success came when they were still very young.  

Scottie Scheffler, the world number one, was 10, while 2021 Champion Golfer of the Year Collin Morikawa was nine.  

It would be asking a lot for either to have vivid memories of Woods’ success, but both have been studying his approach – particularly his notable decision to abandon the driver for all bar one shot of the Championship.  

Scheffler explained: “A lot of my Tiger memories are all on YouTube. I really do get a lot of value out of watching that kind of stuff, and I did watch his win here on YouTube.  

“It's a pretty valuable tool really. You get to watch so much cool stuff. I had never seen this course before. I didn't really know anything about it, other than the fact that it was really firm and he only hit one driver for the entire week.  

“Anytime I'm coming to a new course, I try to learn something about it before I get there versus just coming in blind. It really is a valuable tool for me.”  

Conditions this week look very different to the scorched fairways of 2006, but Morikawa has followed Scheffler’s lead in analysing Woods’ tactics before heading to Royal Liverpool.  

“I watched some video from when Tiger won in 2006,” he said.   

“It was as brown as could be and dry as could be out there and that was his strategy (not using the driver), but he also had a lot of mid to long irons in.”

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