Brown fairways, Garcia’s yellow attire, purple dye bomb & Tiger’s Liverpool red-winning shirt

Bernie McGuire
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Tiger Woods at Royal Liverpool in 2006 (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

The 2006 Open Championship was my first of now three ‘official’ visits to Royal Liverpool Golf Club.

I have been fortunate to return to Hoylake in recent years as the Association of Golf Writers (AGW), and thanks to club secretary Simon Newland, have been hosted to tee-up each year at the famed club.

In contrast to this year’s ‘green top’, the Royal Liverpool course in 2006 was a strong brown colour, given it was a very dry England summer. The fairways were rock-hard, playing more like cricket pitches and kind to the conditions we saw last year at St. Andrews.

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So hard, that eventual champion Tiger Woods used his driver just once over the four days.

Woods teed-up as the 134th Open Champion having won a second Open a year earlier at the Home of Golf.

I vividly recall mobile phones were a huge curse at the 2006 Open, so much so that the R&A reacted by banning anyone from taking phones into the 2007 Open at Carnoustie. It was a time when there was no protocol in place at major golf events for mobiles.

Woods soon sounded his Royal Liverpool intentions opening with a 67 to be sharing second and one behind Graeme McDowell while a second round 65 put TW in front by one while ‘G Mac’ dropped from sight with a Friday 73.

Tied with McDowell in a share on ninth was Sergio Garcia, who was clearly under a strict Adidas dress code, wearing the same yellow colours for all four days.

Garcia attracted more attention after a third round 65 that handed him a share of second at 12-under heading to the final day and also, a last round tee-time alongside Woods who had signed for a one-under 71 and was still good enough to lead the field.

Sunday dawned with blue skies for the fourth day though Garcia’s all-yellow attire had me quickly wondering if this was the colour that he needed to get the better of Woods’ traditional red shirt. Frankly, Garcia looked terrible in all-yellow and he would go on to post a 73 and finish tied for fifth and seven adrift of the winning Woods.

For those who can remember, it was a highly emotional 11th major championship triumph for Woods. His father, Earl had passed away some 10 weeks earlier and with Woods breaking down no sooner had his final putt dropped.

There had also been the sight of Fathers for Justice protesters, seated in a grandstand at the final hole, hurling a purple dye bomb onto the green and the sight, as Woods made his way to the final green, of four police officers picking-up pieces of the ‘bomb’.

As we know, it’s now Just Stop Oil campaigners using coloured dye in their protests and with officials very conscious that there could be a repeat of the events at the 2006 Open this week.

Masters champ Jon Rahm was asked about the Just Stop Oil protests and whether he would be prepared to intervene to stop a protestor. He wasn’t going to commit either way.

“I really don’t know. I’ve seen a couple of those things. I know they’re going for an impact. I saw a couple of them intervening in Wimbledon, and obviously this looks like it could be a perfect spot,” he said.

“You don’t want to disrupt play, which they’re trying, so if it happens where I’m at, I’m obviously going to try to clean up as quickly as possible so we can resume play. That’s all I can say.”

And that’s all I can say of my first Royal Liverpool Open Championship visit now all of 17-years ago.

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