Royal Liverpool was fertile Tiger territory in '06
Posted July 14
When Tiger Woods wins a British Open, he doesn’t just walk off with the fat check and a copy of the Claret Jug. He beats the host course to its knees in the process.
It’s happened three times, starting in 2000 when Woods won his first British with a record 19-under score of 269 at St. Andrews.
Five years later on the same course, Woods won again, this time at 14-under. And the very next year at Royal Liverpool (or Hoylake as locals often refer to the 145-year-old layout), Woods won with a staggering 18-under 270.
The Open returns to Liverpool this week and although Woods is coming off back surgery and has played in only four PGA Tour events all year, he’s still among the favorites.
Technically, most of the London booking houses have Adam Scott listed a slight favorite over Woods, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and U.S. Open winner Martin Kaymer. PGA golfers with Triangle ties
But for anyone who saw Woods put together those rounds of 67-65-71-67 in 2006, it might be difficult to bet on anyone else regardless of Woods’ health and likely rust accumulation.
Woods didn’t exactly bury the ’06 field. Chris DeMarco finished only two strokes behind. Five others finished 10-under or better and 47 total players broke par (288) for the entire tournament.
As courses in the Open rotation go, Liverpool is generally considered one of the least intimidating and especially in calm weather. Unlike many championship courses these days, Liverpool still has four par-5s and depending upon coastal winds, all are reachable in two shots for the hard hitters.
The longest of the four is No. 18 at 560 yards, which conceivably could lead to a scenario in which Sunday’s champ eagles the final hole.
But Woods, who tees off with Angel Cabrera and Stenson at 9:04 a.m. (Eastern time) Thursday, has voiced his fondness for Liverpool many times and this weekend will be a landmark event in his career whether he wins or not.
Approaching 39 and no longer the longest and strongest guy on the circuit, Woods has been stuck at 14 wins in the majors since the 2008 U.S. Open and may not have all that many chances ahead to add to his total ahead.
The weather forecast for Liverpool this week calls for highs in the 60s and 70s with a chance of showers each day, both of which could be a break for Woods. Damp weather should lead to relatively soft greens. Woods hasn’t been a consistently great putter on fast, undulating greens for some time. That’s why Pinehurst No. 2 could have been tricky for him last month even if he had been physically ready to enter the U.S. Open.
By comparison to No. 2, Liverpool is likely to be much more forgiving on and around the greens.
Before Woods won on the course in ’06, Liverpool had been somewhat shunned in the rotation. The previous Open there was way back in 1967, when Robert DeVicenzo won at 10-under, then one of the lowest winning totals in the event’s history. Jack Nicklaus was two strokes behind DeVicenzo and Gary Player tied for third. Arnold Palmer didn’t enter.
Liverpool just hasn’t had that many at-bats and the next four Opens are already set – St. Andrews (2015), Royal Troon (’16), Royal Birkdale (’17) and Carnoustie in 2018.
Woods obviously can’t be ruled as the favorite next year on St. Andrews but the following three stops should be more difficult to subdue for him and everyone else for that matter.
The popular thinking among the golf pundits at this point is that if Woods is going to get Major No. 15, it’ll probably have to be in the British or at the Masters.
If so, this week will be important whether he’s back to 100 percent stamina and strength or not.
Open info: Raleigh’s Webb Simpson will start at 1:54 p.m. Thursday in a threesome with Jamie Donaldson and Yusaku Miyazato.
Cary’s Brendon Todd, Charlotte resident Brendon De Jonge and Duke grad and recent Travelers winner Kevin Streelman will tee off at 12:32 p.m. Thursday.
Raleigh’s Chesson Hadley starts at 3:22 p.m. with Oliver Fisher and Shane Lawry. That threesome should have a large following since Fisher’s hometown in the north London suburbs is only about a 3-hour drive from the course...
Liverpool played a significant role in Bobby Jones’ career. His last of three Open titles was there in 1930, when he won with a 3-over 291 score.
Like Woods, the Liverpool layout was one of Jones’ favorites.
He retired after the 1930 season, leaving with wins in both the British and U.S. Opens, which he won by two strokes at Interlachen near Minneapolis.