Todd Hamilton arrives in Texas with Claret Jug
Displaying the calm demeanor that helped him to aOpen championship, Todd Hamilton arrived home Wednesday for a Texas-sized celebration.
Hamilton, wearing a "Royal Todd" T-shirt and a relaxed grin, was greeted at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport by about 20 golfing buddies and a stampede of camera crews.
He graciously responded to dozens of questions and even lifted the claret jug out of its large case for a few photos.
"I hope this won't go to my head," Hamilton said. "I think these guys behind me won't let that happen."
Keith Jackson, of McKinney, said he's already hoping Hamilton can win the British Open a second time. Jackson, among the friends greeting the golfer, wore a T-shirt bearing names of Open champs. Hamilton's name was the largest.
"We've seen him pound golf balls for hours on end," Jackson said. "There's not a more deserving champion as far as we're concerned,"
The unlikely winner finished regulation play tied with Ernie Els at 10 under and made four pars to win the playoff on Sunday by one shot.
"I let out a big scream," Hamilton said. "It was pretty loud out there. You probably couldn't hear it."
Hamilton said he was glad to be back after three weeks on the road. He planned to attend a congratulatory reception Wednesday evening at his home country club in McKinney, north of Dallas.
His victory is being celebrated as a story of hard work and triumph by the underdog.
"There was no indication something like this would happen," he said.
Hamilton's high school in Illinois didn't even have a golf team, so he petitioned the school to create one. He was the only member, and his father was the coach.
He was an all-stater his junior and senior year before moving on to college at the University of Oklahoma and a pro career.
The 38-year-old played all over the world, but his career took off on the Japan Tour, where he won four tournaments and more than $1 million last year.
In December, the father of three qualified for his PGA card on his eighth try, and on Sunday he beat the greats of the game in one of golf's biggest events.
Hamilton said perhaps his underdog status helped him beat Els, the No. 2-ranked player in the world.
"Of course, he's supposed to win," Hamilton said. "Maybe that was to my advantage."
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