| Runner-up Chris DiMarco celebrates a putt during the fourth round of the British Open on Sunday. (Reuters)
Hoylake: Tiger Woods, oozing confidence throughout the final round, completed a successful and emotional British Open title defence with a two-shot victory over compatriot Chris DiMarco on Sunday.
One stroke clear at the start of the day, the 30-year-old American birdied three of the last five holes at Royal Liverpool for a five-under-par 67, sealing his 11th career major.
Although chased hard by DiMarco, Woods was always in control, claiming his third British Open with a superb display of precision golf in breezy conditions.
Putting beautifully, the world No. 1 became the first player to lift the Claret Jug two years in a row since fellow-American Tom Watson at Royal Birkdale in 1983.
Having romped to his second Open title by five strokes at St Andrews 12 months ago, Woods finished on 18-under 270 at Hoylake.
DiMarco, edged out by Woods in a playoff for last year’s Masters, briefly got within a shot and closed with a 68 to finish second, with 2002 champion Ernie Els a further three strokes back in third after a 71.
Sergio Garcia, joint second overnight with DiMarco and Els, tumbled backwards early on after missing short putts to bogey the second and third.
Playing in the final pairing with Woods, the Spaniard never replicated the form of his third-round 65 on his way to a 73 and a tie for fifth with Japan’s Hideto Tanihara.
American Jim Furyk, winner of the 2003 US Open, secured fourth at 12 under after three birdies in the last four holes gave him a 71.
Woods, competing in only his third event since the death of his father on May 3, burst into tears in the arms of caddie Steve Williams after tapping in for par on the last.
“Stevie said out on the fairway ‘this one’s for dad’ and once I’d finished, all these emotions came pouring out of me,” he said.
“I miss my dad so much. I wish he were here as he thoroughly enjoyed watching me grinding out major championships.”
Woods said of his conservative approach from the tees during the week: “I thought this course leant itself to that type of play. I just felt it was important to be on the fairway to control my spin and accept 40 or 50 footers.”
The champion was in relaxed mood from the opening hole.
He narrowly missed long-range birdie opportunities at the second and third before making his first move at the 528-yard fifth, rolling in an 18-foot eagle putt to forge two strokes clear.
Four rock-solid pars followed as he reached the turn at 15-under for the tournament in breezy conditions.
DiMarco, whose mother died of a suspected heart attack about three weeks ago, mounted the biggest challenge.
He closed to within a stroke of the lead after sinking a 25-foot birdie putt at the short 13th before Woods almost effortlessly stretched ahead, sinking a five-footer to birdie the14th.
Woods then struck his tee shot at the par-three 15th to within 10 feet of the flag and also birdied the par-five fifth to put the title beyond doubt.
Norwegian teenager Marius Thorp won the silver medal as top amateur, holing a 25-footer to birdie the last for a 71 and a 72-hole total of even-par 288.
Up to Joint-Second
Tiger Woods’ 11th major championship put him in joint-second place in the list of leading all-time winners of professional major titles. Following is the list of golfers with six or more major titles:
18 — Jack Nicklaus
11 — Walter Hagen, Tiger Woods
9 — Ben Hogan, Gary Player
8 — Tom Watson
7 — Bobby Jones, Harry Vardon, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer
6 — Lee Trevino, Nick Faldo