"It's not too bad a Fathers Day present is it." Said a smiling Tiger Woods after he completely obliterated the field, the course and the record books yesterday at Pebble Beach in the 100th US Open Championship.
In perhaps the finest display of golf ever witnessed in a Major Tournament, Woods ran away from the field with an impressive 12-under par total, fifteen shots clear of Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
A final round of 4-under par 67 was enough to tie the record for the lowest score in a US Open and he became the only player to have ever scored in double figures under par in a US Open. His 272 total tied him with Jack Nicklaus and Lee Janzen for the lowest aggregate score in the championship.
You have to go back to 1862 when Old Tom Morris won at Prestwick by 13 shots (in a field of 6 players) to find the previous record margin of victory in a Major Championship. And Woods eclipsed that by two and lowered Willie Smith's US Open record margin of victory of 11 shots in 1899.
Woods began the final round with a 10-shot cushion over Ernie Els but everyone else was playing for second place.
In fact, if Woods had decided not to turn up, this weeks US Open would have been a great tournament going down the last few holes as second place was thrown around like a hot potato with Jimenez, Els, Harrington, Westwood and John Huston all competing for the victory in their own little tournament. Els and Jimenez tied for the non-US Open at +3.
Jimenez even quipped to Dr Trey Holland, Chief rules official to the USGA,
"Do Ernie and I have to go for an 18 hole playoff to decide the winner of the other golf tournament!"
Woods started the day in classic Faldo mode with nine straight pars, evocative of The Guvnor's final round at Muirfield in 1987. But he broke the run with a string of birdies, four in five holes starting from the tenth up to the 14th with a solitary par at the 11th.
He moved to 12-under par and everyone hoped that the record would go, he only needed to make one more birdie to smash the previous mark set by Nicklaus and Janzen. And after a fantastic par save, getting up and down from behind the 16th green, holing a 12-foot putt for par, Woods had to play the last two in 1-under to eclipse the mark.
A great up and down at the bunker at the notorious 17th set up the opportunity to smash a long drive down the 18th fairway. But Woods opted to try the conventional way, taking an iron from the tee and putting the ball into position. He had been beached at the hole the day before and decided to let the crowds see him walk down the 18th fairway instead of the beach.
His wedge shot to fifteen feet was sublime, but the putt slipped past and he only tied the record! But the performance will go down as one of the greatest ever witnessed in golf.
With three quarters of the Grand Slam in the bag now, Woods will be the overwhelming favourite to win at St Andrews at The Open Championship and will want to add his name in the record books again becoming the youngest player to win the Grand Slam at the age of 24. If he does, he will match Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen, the only layers ever to have won all four majors.
Even though Woods is not a father, his dad, Earl, was a key force in guiding him into the champion he is today. Earl moulded his son to strive not just to play golf, but to win major championships.
"I can't wait to give this thing to my dad and let him rub it a little bit," Woods said. "It's an incredible feeling to be our nation's Open champion."
"To be honest with you, I never really felt unbeatable," Woods said at the closing ceremony. "But I did have a weird feeling this week. It was hard to describe; a feeling of tranquillity, calmness, especially amidst the stormy conditions. I felt very calm and at ease with myself. That's something we all want to have, but you can't exactly have that every day. To have it for an entire week, I'd say it's a great feeling."
"I can't tell you enough about what my dad meant to my golf. And to me, as a person growing up, and all the times that I had questions in life and all the guidance that he's given me," the younger Woods said.
"My dad always took me out and we practised and played and had a lot of fun competing against each other. Those are the times you look back on and you reminisce and you miss."
"To have my dad still alive, while I won this championship on Father's Day, it's very important to me. He should have been dead in '97, with the complications he had after the heart surgery," the younger Woods said. "This week, to have him witnessing it, it's very special to me."
Happy Fathers Day Earl.