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Tiger Woods was overcome with emotion as he remembered his father after his final putt fell. (Photo: Getty Images)
Tiger Woods was overcome with emotion as he remembered his father after his final putt fell. (Photo: Getty Images)

Woods follows his father's advice and wins one for Dad

Earl Woods would have loved this Open Championship. Every lesson he ever taught his son about life and golf seemed to be in play over four days at Royal Liverpool and, with his victory, Tiger proved that he remembered them all.

HOYLAKE, England (AP) -- This one had a sense of inevitability about it from the beginning. Tiger Woods was so good he spotted the rest of the field one club and still won.

He didn't need his driver. He barely needed his 3-wood.

Woods could have left caddie Steve Williams at home and played this Open Championship with a putter and a few irons slung in a carry bag over his shoulder.

It was as beautiful as it was monotonous. As relentlessly efficient as it was chilling to his fellow players -- just the way his father would have wanted it.

"He would have been proud, very proud," Woods said. "He thoroughly enjoyed watching me grind out major championships."

Earl Woods would have loved this Open. Every lesson he ever taught his son about life and golf seemed to be in play over four days at Royal Liverpool.

He raised young Eldrick to be a championship golfer, and fueled the competitive drive that now fires a grown Tiger. Earl Woods taught his son the right way to go about winning, and how to control his emotions when it mattered most.

It was harder to do on this Sunday afternoon than any before. Woods, though, had learned his lessons well.

For nearly four hours, he kept his mind busy with yardages, clubs, lines and scoreboards. He hit every shot flush, nearly every putt true.

The focus was entirely on the task at hand, winning the British Open for the second straight time and the third in his spectacular career.

There wasn't time to think about Dad. And this wasn't the place. Earl Woods wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

"He was always on my case about thinking my way around the golf course and not letting your emotions get the better of you," Woods said.

Woods made that mistake at the Masters. His father was dying of cancer, bedridden at home and unable to come to Augusta for the first time since his son began playing there.

Woods knew his father would not live to see another major. He wanted desperately to win another green jacket for him, but the putts he tried to will into the hole just wouldn't go in.

"It was the only time I had seen him try too hard," Williams said. "He wanted to win that so badly."

Earl Woods died a few weeks later, and Tiger was devastated. He knew it was coming, but now he was faced with the reality that his father would never be there again to offer him advise, a putting tip or even a simple hug.

It wasn't until the U.S. Open that Woods resumed his career, but he clearly wasn't ready. He missed the cut in a major championship for the first time as a pro, and watched from home while Phil Mickelson imploded on the final hole.

Still, he came here with high expectations. His putting and ball striking were coming together, and he needed only a good game plan and the patience to execute it.

His father had taught him that, too. Always be prepared, and always be prepared to follow your plan.

The plan quickly became clear in the practice rounds. Woods was banging his driver 375, sometimes 400, yards off the tee on the hard and dried out grounds of Royal Liverpool. He knew that he wouldn't be finding too many fairways with that length.

He decided to hit irons off almost every tee, even on some of the par 5s. Woods played his last 56 holes without touching his driver, controlling the ball beautifully with his irons even as his playing partners blasted it past him with their woods.

All along, he felt his dad at his side.

"He was out there today keeping me calm," Woods said. "I had a very calm feeling the entire week, especially today."

Woods needed that calmness when Chris DiMarco made a back nine move that brought him to within one shot. Woods responded with three straight birdies beginning on the 14th hole to put it away, guaranteeing himself a stress-free walk up the final hole.

In the 18th fairway, Williams told him he had won it for his father. Woods responded that there was still golf to be played, and now wasn't the time to think of that.

His father would have wanted it that way, too. Focus on the task at hand and get the job done.

It wasn't until Woods tapped in for par on the 18th green that a lifetime's worth of emotions came pouring out. He raised his hands in victory, let out a big "Yes!" and embraced Williams.

The world's best player and his caddie stood there for a long time, barely hearing the cheers of the huge crowd. Woods sobbed with his head buried on Williams' shoulder, finally coming up for air with tears streaming down his face.

The job was finished. He had made his father proud.

"I miss my dad so much," Woods said. "I wish he could have seen this one last time."

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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