Tiger Woods provided an imperious display of strategic links golf to mark the return of Hoylake as host of The Open for the first time in 39 years.
A vast gallery of almost 230,000, the second highest ever, also appreciated the return of a venue so close to Liverpool and enjoyed the glorious weather.
A summer heatwave meant a fast-running links that was brown in colour. Woods decided he had no need of a driver, using it only once, missing the fairway at the par-5 16th in the first round but still making a birdie.
Instead, Woods laid back from the bunkers off the tee and produced a masterclass in long and mid-iron play. After an opening 67 that left him one off the lead, he was one of three players, along with Chris DiMarco and Ernie Els, to set a new record for Opens at Royal Liverpool with a 65. At the 14th he holed out with a 4-iron from 212 yards for an eagle-2.
He led from Friday morning onwards but never ran away from the field. Sergio Garcia had a 65, including an eagle-2 at the second, to join DiMarco and Els just one adrift with a round to play.
It was DiMarco, just as at the 2005 Masters, who pushed Woods hardest in the final round and it took three birdies in a row from the 14th for Woods to finally shake off his compatriot.
A closing 67 gave him a two-stroke victory, with Els third and Garcia dropping to joint-fifth.Woods, the first Champion to defend successfully since Tom Watson in 1983, showed his emotions on the 18th green. His father, Earl, had died two months earlier.
“I wish he could have seen this one last time,” Tiger said.