Notebook: Protesters briefly disrupt the closing hole
Plus, Adam Scott questions the hole locations, Royal Liverpool sets an attendance record, Jim Furyk hails Tiger Woods, Tom Watson predicts big things from the leading amateur, Sean O'Hair's father-in-law assumes a new role, and more.
HOYLAKE, England -- Tiger Woods can't seem to win an Open Championship without some type of disruption. There was a streaker at St. Andrews, and purple flour bombs Sunday at Royal Liverpool as he was about to play his third shot from behind the 18th green.
A man was heard to shout, "Fathers For Justice" as six flour bombs were thrown onto the putting surface, drawing boos from the fans sitting around the 18th green. The man was led away by police, who wore plastic gloves to clean away the residue.
The flour bombs left small purple stains on the grass but didn't seem to affect the players.
"We only saw the paint," said Sergio Garcia, who was Woods' playing partner. "We didn't see when they threw it. It's very disappointing to see that happen in a championship like this one is, the best championship in the world. It didn't affect me at all. I wasn't putting through the paint anyway."
Fathers 4 Justice is a campaign for father's rights in child custody cases. Similar devices were thrown at Prime Minister Tony Blair in the House of Commons two years ago during a debate.
PIN PLACEMENTS: Australian Adam Scott believes some of the pin placements in the final round of the Open Championship were bordering on the "Mickey Mouse."
The 26-year-old from Adelaide got himself into a good position at 12-under with two holes to play, but he bogeyed the 17th and then had a double-bogey 6 after hitting his approach to the last out of bounds.
His 9-under 279 total was still good enough for his best finish in the Open, but he was critical of where the Royal & Ancient Club had put some of the flags in an attempt to slow down the scoring.
"All week they have been borderline. There are a couple I don't think they needed to go that far with; the eighth springs to mind and the 17th," he said after his round of 72. "You don't want it to be Mickey Mouse for the final round of a major, and they were pretty close.
"I don't think they needed to today, but they had to tuck the pins this week to ensure there was no low scoring considering there was no wind," he explained. "But I played well this week. I played well enough to be right up there. It was a good week and I'm happy with the way I struck the ball.
"I didn't feel under any pressure [down the stretch], I was just going for it. Tiger [Woods] was three in front with the two par 5s to play so I had to get to what he was at," he said. "It was good for my confidence. I'm just trying to play well every week and, without the last two holes I would have been quite close. I just want to give myself a chance in three weeks' time [at the PGA Championship]."
RECORD CROWDS: The 2006 Open set a new record for the event in England, with 230,000 people coming through the gates this week. It represents a success for the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, which is staging the tournament for the first time in 39 years.
This week's attendance bettered last year's total of 223,000 at St. Andrews, but was surpassed by the 2000 tournament at St. Andrews, where 239,000 watched Tiger Woods claim his initial Claret Jug.
THORP IMPRESSES WATSON: Marius Thorp made a big impression on five-time Open winner Tom Watson. The 18-year-old Norwegian won the silver medal for the best amateur at Hoylake on Sunday by finishing seven shots ahead of Italy's Edoardo Molinari.
Thorp refused to be fazed at playing alongside Watson, one of the game's great names, and finished even with the American on the day at 1-under 71.
Watson was impressed with his young partner.
"Marius has the ability to be a great player, " he said. "He is fearless with the putter; I remember those days. That was something I used to revel in and I wish I was like that again."
Thorp now has a number of options after putting some big players to shame with his game plan at Hoylake.
He has a year to run at college in Oslo, but also has an offer to continue his studies in the United States. However, it all depends on what happens at the European Tour school in November. Thorp intends to turn professional should he qualify.
For the moment though, he intends to savor a rare double. He won the individual title at the World Junior Team Championships last month, when Norway clinched the team event with his father, Arild Thorp, serving as captain.
Like Watson, Thorp took time out from practice to visit The Beatles museum in Liverpool.
"We talked about music and the Beatles, though he remarked I was much too young to remember them," Thorp said with a smile. "I had so much fun out there and I played good. It does not get any better than playing with one of the game's great players."
MOLINARI GOES PRO: Edoardo Molinari stayed an amateur long enough to play in the Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship. But after closing with a 75, the Italian is ready to turn pro.
Molinari, who earned his exemptions by winning the U.S. Amateur last year, will make his pro debut this week at the Deutsche Bank Players Championship in Germany through a sponsor's invitation.
He signed with a Swiss sports agency.
"The last year has been an incredible journey with many fantastic experiences," Molinari said.
FURYK HAILS TIGER: Jim Furyk saluted fellow American Tiger Woods upon winning his second straight Open Championship, and was pleased at the way he came back from a difficult start on Sunday to finish fourth.
"Tiger knew he needed some rounds after taking a break to get comfortable again. He certainly looked comfortable today," said Furyk, who likely will partner Woods in some of the two-man matches at the Ryder Cup in September. "Chris [DiMarco] got back within one shot then Tiger gets three birdies in a row. It is tough for everyone when he does that."
Furyk bogeyed the first two holes, but finished with a 71 and a total of 12-under 276.
"I am proud of the way I came back," he said. "I played well this week and got some Ryder Cup points."
RISING SUN: Hideto Tanihara started the final round hopeful of becoming the first Japanese player to win a major. He ended it by missing an 8-foot birdie putt that cost him an automatic ticket to the Masters, spoiling an otherwise good week.
Tanihara, playing in his second Open, closed with a 1-under 71 and tied for fifth with Sergio Garcia at 11-under 277, seven shots behind Tiger Woods. The top four and ties from the Open are exempt to the Masters.
"It's kind of bittersweet," he said. "I felt I left a few shots out there today, but on the other hand it is a great finish."
The one consolation? He won't have to qualify for the Open next year because the top 10 automatically return.
"This is by far my best achievement," Tanihara said. "I never expected to be in the top 10, but I did expect to play well this week."
Tanihara has played on the Japanese Tour for the last five years, where he has won three times, including once this year. In his last Open appearance in 2003, he missed the cut.
RAVE REVIEWS: Royal Liverpool hadn't been in the Open rotation for 39 years. Based on how the players felt about it, the venerable club won't have to wait that long again.
"Hopefully the R&A will now put this course back on the rotation sooner rather than later," former U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell said.
Tiger Woods called it a "fantastic test" that allowed for more creativity than usual for an Open. It was a brown links course, courtesy of a hot, dry spell in England that turned the rough into wispy strands of grass.
Asked if the Open should return to Royal Liverpool, the champion replied, "Yes."
The last Open at Royal Liverpool was in 1967, but the course was dropped from the rotation because of logistical problems getting people to and from the course squeezed into the Liverpool suburbs.
Those problems were largely overcome at this Open, with some 38,000 people a day attending, and players generally liked what they saw.
"It's a very good golf course and it's right there in front of you," Thomas Bjorn said. "It's a good test and while it's not the longest the way it played, somehow it has still put up a good test."
Former champion David Duval also liked what he saw.
"It was as much about the links experience as any I've played, even St. Andrews," Duval said.
WEARING TWO HATS: Steve Lucas kept regular hours in the insurance business until he took on a part-time job as caddie for his son-in-law, Sean O'Hair. Lucas was a steadying influence for O'Hair, whose father used boot-camp tactics to train his son to play golf.
After a year on tour and a victory last year in the John Deere Classic, O'Hair decided to switch to a professional caddie.
Lucas was behind the ropes Sunday, chomping on a cigar, shouting encouragement to his son-in-law. Standing behind the 17th green, he sounded like a caddie again.
"Front middle. Let it funnel to the hole," Lucas said.
The ball soared toward the flag, narrowly missed the bunker and stopped 4 feet away for a birdie. Lucas raised both hands over his head and clapped, turning from caddie to father-in-law again.
O'Hair birdied the 18th for a 67, matching Tiger Woods for best score of the final round, and he tied for 14th.
STILL LOVING THE LINKS: Paul Casey found himself in last place in the Open on Sunday, but insisted he would relish the chance to play more links golf. Casey carded a final-round 77 to lie 10-over and last among the 71 players who made the cut.
The 29-year-old skipped last week's Scottish Open at Loch Lomond to work on his game and practice at Hoylake, and would like to see more European Tour events played on links courses.
"I've always thought it would be nice to play links golf in the couple of weeks leading up to it, but it's tough now. It's all about sponsors and money," he said. "Loch Lomond is a fantastic event, and Lyle Anderson [the owner of Loch Lomond] does own a links course at Dundonald. But is it a place to hold a tour event? It might not be big enough in terms of the infrastructure.
"I'm sure if we were playing a couple of links events guys would really love that. You would get a lot of the American players coming over and playing, I'm sure," he added. "But it's unfortunately not for the players to set the schedule and pick the courses."
Casey had not finished outside the top 30 in any tournament in Europe or America since February before this week, and is at a loss to explain his performance.
"I really struggled with the swing; I didn't have control of the golf ball this week -- and if you don't have that round somewhere round here you're not going to get away with it," said the Ryder Cup star. "Every week is tough. But it exaggerates mistakes when you turn up to a major, especially an Open Championship.
"If this was a U.S. Open, I'd just be in the rough all the time and chipping out sideways," he said. "Here it's slightly more complex -- and you end up in trickier positions, I find."
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