For Tiger Woods the 2006 Open Championship was the perfect storm. Or, to be meteorologically accurate, the convergence of no storms – the antithesis of the traditional English summer – and a game ripe for a surgical strike as opposed to the normal fare of carpet bombing.
In the weeks leading up to the ’06 championship an unseasonably dry summer cooked Hoylake to a golden hue and when Woods arrived on the Wirral peninsula the ancient links had a distinct Royal Yellow Brick Road feel.
Think Pinehurst before the USGA made brown the new green in grand slam lexicon.
Almost immediately, the man who had forged a Hall of Fame career overpowering golf courses clued into the reality that this Open would be different.
“He hit driver off (No.) 1 and driver off (No.) 3 (in practice) and it never came out again,” Hank Haney, Woods’ swing coach at the time, said. “He was determined to just have no penalty shots, hitting sideways out of a bunker is essentially a one-stroke penalty. If you hit driver it is virtually impossible to avoid some penalty shots.”
He would actually hit driver once more during the tournament proper, but it was obvious the big stick was not required.
With a precision that, in retrospect, bordered on the surreal, Woods picked apart the parched turf with long irons and an artist’s touch, hitting 48 of 56 fairways for the week (first in the field) and 58 of 72 greens in regulation (T-2) for 72 holes.
Maybe even more impressive was Woods’ ability to plod his way around the dusty dunes hitting into just three of Hoylake’s 82 bunkers the entire week.
By comparison, at Woods’ 2000 U.S. Open masterpiece, which he won by 15 strokes and is widely considered the quintessential boat-race victory of his career, he hit 41 of 56 fairways (14th in the field) and 51 of 72 greens in regulation (first).
As masterful as Woods’ dismantling of Royal Liverpool was, it was a strategy born more from necessity than nuanced planning.
Read the full article at GolfChannel.com