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Monday, August 2, 2021

Open Championship – Top-10 Greatest Hits – #9

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With this year’s Open Championship denied to golf fans all around the world due to Coronavirus, it may be second best, but looking back at Opens past, and savouring some of the most significant single golf shots – good and bad – to have adorned the world’s most prestigious ‘Major’ in living memory might help ease – if not altogether eradicate – withdrawal symptoms and pangs of ‘Wish I was there,’ syndrome.

Great golf shots come in all shapes and sizes, from prodigious drives to eagle-making or par-saving putts, miraculous escapes from bunkers and bushes, the most audacious when the pressure is on and the chips are down, hence, context is everything.

So here’s a highly-subjective selection of Greatest Hits to remember and some Misses to forget – in the absence of real, live Open golf. We started with some magic from the Big Easy, Ernie Els at Muirfield in 2002 and now we move to number nine and the one they call the GOAT.

We’ll upload each hit daily until we get to number one. Let us know what you think.

 

#9 135th Open Championship, Royal Liverpool, 20th – 23rd July 2006

No Top-10 of Open Championship greatest hits would be complete without at least one contribution from the greatest golfer of his – and arguably any other – generation, Tiger Woods, and there are plenty of options to choose from, but one stood out for both sporting and family reasons.

Arriving at a Royal Liverpool parched following months of hot, dry weather, Woods was the defending champion and was going for a hat-trick of Open wins, having previously won at St Andrews in 2000, and the great man then got his campaign off to a resounding start with a commanding opening round 67, tied in second place.

But it was during a sensational second round of 65 that the world #1 struck the shot that stands out – in overall context – as one, if not the best of his Open Championship career.

After a fine tee shot on the notoriously difficult 14th hole at Royal Liverpool, a demanding 456-yard, Par-4, Woods had 200-yards to the front of the green, 209 to the flag; unsighted and from a tight lie on a on a scorched fairway, he launched an imperious mid-iron, which towered through the bright blue sky before hitting the front apron, bouncing four times before rolling straight into the cup.

Cue high-fives with his caddie Steve Williams, who was also to feature in a second most memorable – and emotional – moment of a singularly successful week; having consolidated his superiority with a steady if unspectacular third round, one-under-par 71, Woods, dressed in red for his Sunday best carded a commanding final round 67 to win by two, a surprisingly narrow margin after such an assertive week’s play.

On holing the winning putt, Woods crumpled into the shoulder of his Kiwi caddie Williams, overwhelmed by emotion at the enormity of an occasion that heralded his first ‘Major’ victory since the death of his father Earl just a few weeks earlier.

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