Tiger Woods’s Open win at Royal Liverpool in 2006 was the perfect tribute to his dad, Earl, two months after his death, but will he ever be back?

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Tiger Woods is no stranger to being in the spotlight at The Open Championship but the Royal Liverpool stage saw an emotional side not often shown by the 15-time major winner in 2006. 

As the final major of the year returns to Hoylake this year, Woods’s emotional win to collect his third Claret Jug remains one of the most memorable moments in the tournaments history. 

It was the first time a player had gone back-to-back at the major since Tom Watson’s victories in 1982 and 1983. 

With hindsight, it holds further significance as it is his third and final win at the Open Championship, following his victories in 2000 and 2005. 

But the triumph at Hoylake meant so much more than major wins. It was a tribute to his father Earl. 

Tiger Woods won his third Claret Jug at the 2006 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool

Tiger Woods won his third Claret Jug at the 2006 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool 

The golfing legend broke into tears in emotional scenes on the 18th green at Hoylake

The golfing legend broke into tears in emotional scenes on the 18th green at Hoylake 

The triumph marked his first major win since the death of his dad, Earl, two months earlier

The triumph marked his first major win since the death of his dad, Earl, two months earlier 

Earl had died of prostate cancer just two months before the tournament and the victory marked Woods’ first major win since losing his dad. 

Woods had a close relationship with his father, a man who guided his son from golfing prodigy to a global superstar, who transformed the sport. 

Earl’s legacy to his son – methodical, clearheaded and precise play – could be seen throughout Woods’ robotic dominance in the early 2000s but there was no greater testament to it than the performance he delivered on the Hoylake stage. 

‘[Dad] was always on my case about thinking my way around the golf course and not letting emotions get the better of you, because it’s so very easy to do in this sport,’ Woods said after his win. 

‘And just use your mind to plot your way around the golf course and if you had to deviate from the game plan, make sure it is the right decision to do that. [Dad] was very adamant I play like that my entire playing career.’

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And that’s exactly what Woods did at Royal Liverpool. He played flawless golf that would’ve made Earl proud. 

It even impressed Nick Faldo, who described Woods’ ball-striking as ‘sheer perfection’ and said: ‘This has been a master class of tactitional golf. It’s really been fantastic to watch.’

Tackling the firm fairways of Hoylake and the often-blustery breezes off the River Dee, Woods only hit driver once throughout the week and didn’t pull it out of the bag at all on the final three days. 

Earl had died of prostate cancer in May 2006, just two months before the tournament

Earl had died of prostate cancer in May 2006, just two months before the tournament

He guided his son from golfing prodigy to a global superstar (pictured in 1989)

He guided his son from golfing prodigy to a global superstar (pictured in 1989)

Chris DiMarco, who was also suffering with the recent loss of his mother, put up a challenge for the second year in a row. 

DiMarco had battled Woods at the Master in 2005, taking the great to a playoff before Woods ultimately triumphed. 

A year later at The Open, DiMarco cut Woods’ lead to one but that appeared to only make Woods play better as he birdied 14, 15, 16. 

But no one else in the field even put up a fight.

Woods had appeared even more reserved in his reactions throughout the final round. He made a sole eagle on the fifth and no one would have known as he solemnly lifted his putter into the air. 

He did make up for the lack of reaction with a club twirl after every single beautifully-struck shot. 

But the of the occasion finally came to a head as the emotion spilled over on the 18th green. 

Woods sunk his championship-winning putt and the tears streamed down his cheeks. 

Woods sunk his championship-winning putt and the tears streamed down his cheeks

Woods sunk his championship-winning putt and the tears streamed down his cheeks

The 15-time major winner is comforted by his caddie Steve Williams following the win

The 15-time major winner is comforted by his caddie Steve Williams following the win 

A teary Woods shares an embrace with then-wife Elin Nordegren following his victory

A teary Woods shares an embrace with then-wife Elin Nordegren following his victory 

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He shared an emotional hug with his caddie Steve Williams, who later revealed that as they made their way up the 18th fairway, he had turned to his player and said: ‘This one is for dad.’ 

‘I’m kind of the one who bottles things up a little bit and moves on, tries to deal with things in my own way,’ said Woods, following the win. 

‘But at that moment it just came pouring out and of all the things that my father has meant to me and the game of golf, and I just wish he could have seen it one more time.’

Woods has provided the world of golf many tear-jerking moments since, notably his 2019 comeback victory at the Masters and a return to Augusta three years later, 14 months on from his 2021 horror car crash. 

Just last year he pulled on the heartstrings of the patrons of St Andrews as he took one final stroll up the 18th at the Old Course with tears in his eyes. 

But he won’t be replicating another one at Royal Liverpool this week and whether we’ll ever see another one from him at The Open is in serious doubt.

Following the 150th Open last July, Woods himself admitted it could have been his last at the Home of Golf.

‘The warmth and the ovation at 18, it got to me,’ Woods said. ‘It’s very emotional for me. I’ve been coming here since 1995, and I don’t know when – I think the next one comes around in what, 2030? – and I don’t know if I will be physically able to play by then. 

He shared an emotional hug with Williams, who had said: 'This one is for dad'

He shared an emotional hug with Williams, who had said: ‘This one is for dad’

‘So to me it felt like this might have been my last British Open here at St. Andrews. And the fans, the ovation and the warmth, it was an unbelievable feeling. They understand what golf’s all about and what it takes to be an Open champion.

‘And I’ve been lucky enough and fortunate enough to have won this twice here (in 2000 and 2005). And it felt very emotional, just because I just don’t know what my health is going to be like. And I feel like I will be able to play future British Opens, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to play that long enough that when it comes back around here, will I still be playing?’

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And, while Woods won’t be at Hoylake this year, after undergoing ankle surgery in April following his Masters withdrawal, he still managed to reminisce on the ‘gratifying’ win. 

Speaking in a video message after being recognized for ‘outstanding services to golf’ by the Association of Golf Writers on Tuesday night, Woods recalled the emotion of landing his third Claret Jug two months after the passing of his father.

Last year, he pulled on the heartstrings of the patrons of St Andrews as he held the tears back

Last year, he pulled on the heartstrings of the patrons of St Andrews as he held the tears back

Woods took what is likely to be his final stroll over the famous Swilcan Bridge at the 18th

Woods took what is likely to be his final stroll over the famous Swilcan Bridge at the 18th

Woods said: ‘I just want to say that all my years of playing the Open Championship, starting at St Andrews in 1995, have been some of the greatest moments, and greatest memories, I have had not just in my golfing career, but in my whole life.

‘I’ll roll through some of them, starting with my win at St Andrews in 200, and winning again at the home of golf in 2005, and onto where everyone is playing this week, at Hoylake.

‘That week in 2006 was a very emotional one. It was the first championship I ever won without my dad being there. It was a tough, tough week, but also probably the most gratifying that I have ever experienced over there.’

While Woods will not be gracing the hallowed stage of The Open at Hoylake, the laser-focused legend will forever be remembered for providing the course and the tournament one of its most memorable moments to date. 

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