A new David Duval emerged when he took off his cap and trademark wraparound sunglasses and lifted the Claret Jug. “I think it is the history that’s so humbling,” he said of winning The Open.
The year before, at St Andrews, Duval had challenged Tiger Woods for the trophy until he needed four attempts to escape the Road Hole Bunker, and then flown home on the same private jet as the Champion Golfer of the Year.
Duval had briefly usurped Woods as world No 1 in 1999 but a major title had proved elusive until a superb weekend performance at Royal Lytham & St Annes, where his score of 132 for the last 36 holes was a new record for the venue.
Although Colin Montgomerie had led by three strokes on Thursday, the leaderboard became progressively more bunched. Duval roared to the top of it with a 65 on Saturday, joining Bernhard Langer, Ian Woosnam and Alex Cejka, with a further 15 players within two strokes.
Woosnam got off to the perfect start with his tee shot at the par-3 first finishing six inches from the hole. But the birdie soon turned into a bogey when his caddie, Miles Byrne, discovered an extra driver in the bag.
“You’re going to go ballistic,” he told his boss on the second tee. “We have 15 clubs.” Woosnam threw the spare into a bush and declared the two-shot penalty. “I felt like I’d be kicked in the teeth,” said the Welshman, who finished in a tie for third place.
Duval birdied four of the first 11 holes on the way to a 67 and a three-shot win over Niclas Fasth, who also had a 67. The composed way Duval played Lytham’s fearsome final five holes, all in pars, spoke volumes.
After driving into thick rough at the 15th he hit a 6-iron from 210 yards to 15 feet. “One of the best shots I’ve ever hit,” he said after realising his childhood dream.