Tiger's Open and closed case

The 129th Open: Grand Slam there for the taking as the unstoppable Tiger rewrites the record books

Tiger Woods, by far the best player in the world, will face the man considered the next best by the world rankings, David Duval, in the final pairing of today's final round of the 129th Open Championship. But he will do so with the comfort of a six-stroke lead after his second 67 of the week left him at 16 under par. Thomas Bjorn shared second place with Duval. "Someone out there is playing golf on a different planet from the rest of us," said Bjorn.

Tiger Woods, by far the best player in the world, will face the man considered the next best by the world rankings, David Duval, in the final pairing of today's final round of the 129th Open Championship. But he will do so with the comfort of a six-stroke lead after his second 67 of the week left him at 16 under par. Thomas Bjorn shared second place with Duval. "Someone out there is playing golf on a different planet from the rest of us," said Bjorn.

Should Woods complete victory, and the bookmakers have closed the account, he will be the youngest person to win all four grand slam championships. At 24, he has already won the Masters, by 12 strokes in 1997, the US PGA last year, and the US Open by 15 shots last month. He will join Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen in achieving the feat and will have done it in the quickest time, under four years.

"I have to go out and execute each shot and stick to my gameplan," Woods said. "I've got to get the job done. Any time you have a lead you feel a little pressure. The bigger the lead the more pressure you feel. Obviously, if you don't end up winning you are not going to feel too good about yourself." Tiger hardly needs to worry, having lost only twice on 19 previous occasions when he has led after 54 holes.

Once again, he was fairly conservative, yet still managed seven birdies, including three in a row from the 12th and one at the last. Earlier, his run of bogey-free golf ended at 63 holes, dating back to the 10th hole at Pebble Beach. Over the back of the second green, he lagged up to four feet but saw the par-saving attempt lip out. "It was a poor first putt and a poor second putt," he said. "But I birdied the next hole so I reckon it all evens out."

Another rare mistake came at the 17th. He pulled a seven iron approach, which skirted the Road bunker. He then three putted. But he continued to enjoy the challenge. "You have to create every shot," he said. "You can't play a stock shot. Your creativity is tested. That's why I enjoy links golf."

As for facing Duval today, he said: "That's what people want to see. I want to see it too, because he's a friend. We will give everything, and try our best to beat each other."

After flirting with the out of bounds on the right at the 18th, Duval made a putt from six feet at the last to equal the best round of week at 66. As the first man, other than Woods, to get to 10 under and stay there, Duval ensured the world's top two players will tee up in the final group today. "I definitely wanted to make that putt," Duval said. "I didn't think I had a chance of getting in the last group at nine under. I wanted to be there. It's going to be exciting, it's going to be a circus, a slugfest, whatever you want to call it."

Woods has won 13 times since Duval last tasted victory, at the Players' Championship 16 months ago. Despite the number of strokes between them, Duval knew he could put pressure on Woods today by playing alongside him. "You get to look him in the eye," he said. "If I can swing the way I have over the last few days, I can show him I've got a little game going too. To get into the last group of a major with the best player in the world is an experience you want to have. No one has stepped up and played with Tiger recently. It is up to us to give him a run and beat him."

Duval has been in the top 10 of the last three Masters and the last three US Opens. His best chances of victory came at Augusta in 1998 and earlier this year. "I'll be trying to win my first major and he'll be trying to win the slam. There'll be a lot of pressure."

Woods, of course, seems to be able to absorb pressure better than anyone else. "All the great players from whatever sport have the ability to channel it," Duval said. "You don't get immune from pressure but you learn how to deal with it, how the body reacts. What Tiger is good at is using it to his advantage."

Duval said all this while standing up due to the problem with his back. It first became painful after the US Open, but it could have been injured for months. "Today was the best I have felt all week. The joints were back to where I had the full range of motion and I was swinging fine. Although it's painful, I feel everything else in my game is back in place. I feel I am capable of winning this and other tournaments."

It was at the last two rounds at Loch Lomond that Duval rediscovered the sort of touch on the greens he enjoyed when he won 11 times in less than two years from late 1997 to early 1999. Another thing he saw yesterday was a little luck. "I feel things are turning," he said. "I got a few breaks today which I might not have got a couple of months ago."

At the last hole, his drive ran towards the fence on the right before veeringback to the middle of the fairway. "It was awfully close," he said. "I turned a six into a three."

But Ernie Els, the first-round leader, could not avoid a double bogey at the 12th after driving into a gorse bush. He had got to 10 under but a 70 left the South African eight behind at the end to a day that started badly with a rugby defeat by New Zealand.

Another who failed to mount an expected challenge was Sergio Garcia. The 20-year-old had a 73 after taking two to get out of the Road Bunker. He hardly made a putt all day and his frustration showed when he missed the green at the ninth with a poor pitch and he slammed his club into the ground. It was the third time on the front nine he had finished in a divot. "It was like being in a bunker that was only six inches long," he said.

Like Duval, Bjorn birdied the last to get to 10 under par and was another to pick up the shot he had dropped at the 17th. The Dane had a 68 and said: "There are a lot of great names on the leaderboard and I'm quite happy to be among them."

Darren Clarke also had a 68 to be one further back at nine under. The Irishman, who grew up on the great links courses in the North, made six birdies, two coming in the last three holes. "I'm just going to try to go as low as I can tomorrow," Clarke said. "You can't put a figure on it because this course can jump up and bite you. It's a case of being patient."

As a celebration of the game, this week could not have been much better. The attendance for the week is set to surpass the 208,680 who turned up in 1990 and yesterday's gallery of 49,000 set a new daily record for the second day running. If only a little wind had turned up for the party. But then Woods might be even further ahead.

Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
Arts & Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'
tv
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
Sport
Pablo Larrazabal jumps into a pond in Kuala Lumpur to escape a swarm of hornets
videoSpain's Pablo Larrazabal's had a refreshing solution
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Sport
Jonathan Trott will take a second break from cricket after suffering a repeat of the stress-related illness that forced him out of the Ashes tour of Australia
sport
Life & Style
life
Life & Style
fashion
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
musicJethro Tull frontman leads ‘prog rock’ revival
Life & Style
Father and son: Michael Williams with son Edmund
lifeAs his son’s bar mitzvah approaches, CofE-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys he’s experienced in learning about his family’s other faith
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
comedy... writes Jenny Collier, the comedian whose recent show was cancelled because there were 'too many women' on the bill
News
House proud: keeping up with the Joneses now extends to children's playhouses
newsLuxury playhouses now on the market for as much as £800
News
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit