When Tiger Woods missed his first cut in a major tournament at last month's US Open, there was a flurry of speculation about his form and his future. Some even suggested that the death of his father, also his mentor and best friend, might be permanently crippling. But Woods silenced all doubts by successfully defending his British Open title last weekend at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake.
Woods played exceptional golf to total up 18 under par for the championship, two strokes ahead of fellow American Chris Dimarco. Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia had an outside chance, but their game fell apart as they tried to push ahead in the leader board.
Woods played so sensibly that he never pulled out his driver except on one occasion in the whole tournament when the fairways were too hard to control the ball and escaped all deep and monstrous fairway bunkers. Woods hit his two-iron stinger on most of the holes to keep the game steady and alive. In the final round in particular he was so much in control that he hit all but one fairway, and struck a phenomenal 85.7 percent on driving accuracy for the week. Even though he three-putted his very first hole (on Thursday) from inside 20 feet, he was able to keep his putter well in control. He found 15 of 18 greens, too, on the final day and when the heat was on, he made three straight birdie putts on the homeward nine (14, 15 & 16) to hold off the hard-charging Chris Dimarco.
Woods' uncanny ability to pull off shots when a competitor is closing in on him is phenomenal. I guess that's why he is not just the world's best golfer, but has also taken the game to another level. He has 49 PGA tour titles and perhaps that confidence helps him outplay opponents so consistently. So, though there were a couple of players within a few shots before the final day's play, Woods knew that only he and Ernie Els had ever won the Claret Jug.
This was an extraordinarily emotional victory for Woods, given his recent loss. He was teary even as he walked up to the 18th green to the sound of raucous cheers. After his final putt, clinging on to his caddie Stevie Williams was all Tiger Woods could do to control his tears.
This is Woods' most significant Open win-a major championship record score of 19 under. Now, with 11 majors under is belt, Woods has tied Walter Hagen and is looking to surpass only Jack Nicklaus, who has 18, to set a new record.
Deepak Acharya is a golf instructor and Golf Director at Le Meridien Gokarna Forest Golf Resort & Spa, Kathmandu. firstname.lastname@example.org