Woods wins first Open and Shut Championship

Tiger Woods continued to cut a huge swath through the lore of golf yesterday when he completed the formality of victory in the 129th Open tournament at St Andrews yesterday.

Tiger Woods continued to cut a huge swath through the lore of golf yesterday when he completed the formality of victory in the 129th Open tournament at St Andrews yesterday.

At the home of the game, the 24-year-old Californian became its most remarkable performer - the youngest winner of the Grand Slam of major titles, adding the Open to the US Masters, which he won in his first year as a professional in 1997, the US PGA title in 1998 and the US Open last month.

His winning margin over the South African Ernie Els was eight strokes, modest in comparison to his 15-stroke triumph at the US Open, but still stunning when added to a mounting stockpile of glory.

When he was handed the Old Claret Jug he said, "To get the chance to complete the Grand Slam of majors at St Andrews is something I'll never forget. The feeling is just awesome."

So too is the image of invincibility he is building. Only four other players - Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player, all of them legends of the game - have completed the Grand Slam.

Nick Faldo, Britain's most successful golfer with six majors, three Masters and three Opens, said: "The point that Tiger Woods has reached so quickly is just awesome. He has presented a huge challenge to all of the game. His technical level, his confidence, are just astounding for someone his age. It is though he has invented a new game."

Yesterday's victory was extraordinary in the extent of Woods's psychological hold over all his rivals. His playing partner, the world's number two ranked player David Duval,launched a strong challenge, pulling three shots back on Woods's lead of six strokes, but he couldn't sustain it and at the end he was a broken figure, taking a numbing eight shots at the famous Road Hole and finishing 12 shots behind Woods.

There were extraordinary scenes as Woods marched up the last fairway. Hundreds of fans raced behind him, many jumping over the Swilken Burn which dissects the final hole, and the over-reaction of a steward in pushing some of the most enthusiastic is bound to lead to an investigation.

Woods was impervious to the drama, though. He marched on to the final green, where he birdied to break the under-par record for all major tournaments at 19 strokes.Duval was somewhat less uplifted. He dropped four shots in the 17th hole bunker, and his confidence could take years to recover. Along with the rest of golf he is operating in the shadow of Tiger Woods.

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