Situated in Hoylake, on Merseyside’s Wirral peninsula, the Royal Liverpool Golf Club has played host to some of the greatest talents in existence. Open tournaments in 2006 and 2014 stand particularly prominent in the memory of locals, with the 2012 Women’s British Open and 2019 Walker Cup also notable for giving the picturesque Wirral town a moment in the spotlight.
Each of those tournaments had standout moments, and here we look at which of them made the greatest impact.
Tiger Woods (2006 Open)
Royal Liverpool’s 14th hole is considered to be one that separates champions from also-rans. Tiger Woods proved in no uncertain terms that he still belonged in the former category in July 2006, scoring a majestic eagle from 200 yards with a 4I. Three bounces preceded its fortuitous landing in the cup, and though it could easily have been a mere birdie, it was the highlight of the second round.
Physically sending a clod of earth flying, he made a thorough mockery of the 14th hole’s Par 5 rating, and in the end, Woods shot a seven-under-par 65. At the time, it was the lowest score produced in a British Open at the famous Merseyside course. It was, in fact, his second eagle of the 2006 Open, and set him on the road to glory.
Rory McIlroy (2014 Open)
Eight years on from Tiger Woods’ Hoylake heroics, Rory McIlroy was leading the next generation by a mile. This shot was preceded by an uncharacteristic error at the twelfth hole – namely ‘Hilbre’, a dog leg that looks deceptively simple, but throws many an experienced player.
After negotiating the rough, McIlroy was tied with rival Rickie Fowler, but McIlroy’s first two Open eagles at Hoylake put him back in the proverbial driving seat:
The prowess he showed in making the second eagle was not an isolated incident. The quality he brings is evident within diverse metrics, such as the latest golf wagering markets for major tournaments and historical trends within his performances in Open events.
In the 2014 Open, McIlroy took just 197 strokes to vanquish 54 holes, setting a new record in stamina-sapping conditions.
Jiyai Shin (2012 Womens Open)
Female golfers from the Asian continent are growing in number and stature. The Royal Liverpool broke new ground in that regard, with Jiyai Shin’s commanding performance in September 2012 seeing Asian women lock out all of the major female-only tournaments that season.
Shin made a number of key shots over the course of a dominant final two days, amongst which was her very first shot of the penultimate day (Saturday 15 September). It took the form of a cultured 30-yard chip, to score an eagle at the tenth hole – a tricky Par 4 featuring broken ground on the left and three bunkers on the right.
John Augenstein (2019 Walker Cup)
11,000 golf fans witnessed an incredible turnaround for the U.S team, who finished with 10 ½ out of a possible 14 points on the final day, thus clinching a first American victory on the British Isles in 12 years. So too was it the most decisive winning margin for an American team in the event for 32 years.
John Augenstein, the 2019 U.S. Amateur runner-up, beat Thomas Plumb 4-3 in what proved to be the decisive encounter. His opening tee shot to kick off proceedings also showed a lot of determination, negotiating the sharp dog leg on the first hole brilliantly. Although the route to glory was choppy for the US team, it set the tone for a fight until the end.
The shot of choice
In terms of skill versus difficulty, it is hard to look past Jiyai Shin’s star turn on the 14th back in 2012. Many cases have been made for the codification of mixed tournaments, and while there is the ever-present argument of physical disparity between male and female golfers, shots like these make a good counter-case.
Even though Shin’s shot was technically flawless, the shots made by McIlroy and Augenstein were performed under huge psychological burden. McIlroy had seen his lead wiped out by his aforementioned mistake at the 12th, while Augenstein likely knew deep down that it was all on him to clinch the 2019 Walker Cup for the US.
Many others will be swayed by sheer stardom though, and for good reason. Tiger Woods’ shot – seeing him up the turf as if slaying an almighty foe – is reminiscent of the aggression and win-at-all-costs attitude that saw Woods turn golf into box office material over the course of two decades.