HOYLAKE, England (AP) - Tiger Woods had an answer for everyone Sunday on another methodical march to victory in the British Open. One month after missing the cut for the first time in a major, Woods was ruthless as ever on the brown-baked links of Royal Liverpool, making three straight birdies to turn away a spirited challenge by Chris DiMarco and win golf's oldest championship for the second straight year. He closed with a 5-under 67 and became the first player since Tom Watson in 1982-83 to win consecutive titles. Woods tapped in for par for a two-shot victory over DiMarco, and pent-up emotions tore through his lips as he screamed "Yes!" He then buried his head in caddie Steve Williams' shoulder and sobbed, his chest heaving. This was his first victory since his father, Earl Woods, died May 3 after a brutal bout with cancer. Some questioned whether Woods could regain his focus, especially after he was sent packing after two rounds at Winged Foot in the U.S. Open.
His face was contorted in raw emotion as he walked off the green and sobbed again while hugging his wife, Elin, and his trainer, Keith Klevin. "I could not stop it," Woods said. "I miss my dad so much." Through it all, no one could stop Woods from winning his 11th career major at age 30. He is tied with Walter Hagen for second on the career list and is one step closer to the 18 professional majors won by Jack Nicklaus, the only mark that matters to Woods. But there were doubts that followed him around Royal Liverpool, host of the British Open for the first time in 39 years. Not only did he miss the cut at the U.S. Open, dominance in the majors was slowly shifting to rival Phil Mickelson. And even with Mickelson out of the picture and Woods clinging to a one-shot lead over a strong cast of contenders, Woods was grilled about his conservative style of play because he hit driver only once all week. The answer was in his hands, the silver claret jug.
Woods now has three British Open titles, the same as Nicklaus, and his victory at Hoylake was littered with other comparisons. The first time Nicklaus missed a cut in a major, at the 1967 Masters, he won the next major he played. And the first major Nicklaus won after his father died was the 1970 British Open. (Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)