Tiger stumbles; Senden goes low at Aussie Open

Tiger Woods hits his second shot from the waste sand on the third hole during day three of the 2011 Australian Open.

Tiger Woods hits his second shot from the waste sand on the third hole during day three of the 2011 Australian Open.

SYDNEY – In the lead for the first time all year, Tiger Woods got the same result as his last time atop the leaderboard.

He couldn’t break par.

Woods bogeyed his first three holes Saturday in the Australian Open, and it didn’t get much better from there. He managed only two birdies on a good day for scoring, shot 3-over 75 and went from a one-shot lead to six shots behind John Senden.

It was only the third time since Woods’ last win two years ago that he had at least a share of the lead after a round. And it was the third time he was over par.

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John Senden

This round made him a long shot to end the longest drought of his career. Only once has he won a tournament when trailing by six shots or more going into the final round, and that was nearly 14 years ago in Thailand.

Senden, who won the Australian Open five years ago at Royal Sydney, birdied his last two holes to finish off a 9-under 63, giving him a one-shot lead over Jason Day going into Sunday at The Lakes.

Day celebrated his 24th birthday with a 68, giving him a shot at winning in his first trip home to Australia in nearly five years.

Greg Chalmers had a 67 and was two shots behind, followed by Nick O’Hern (66) and Nick Watney (68), one of eight Americans who came to the Australian Open to get ready for the Presidents Cup next week at Royal Melbourne.

“I just got off to an awful start,” Woods said. “The round should have been an easy 71, no problem. I played the par 5s bad, I didn’t take care of 13. But if I take care of the par 5s and make a couple of putts, it’s a 1 or 2 under round. But I made nothing today.”

In the lead for the first time since the final round of the Chevron World Challenge last year, it didn’t take long for him to start chasing.

Woods hit two good shots, but the approach was a yard long and tumbled off the side of the green to leave him a tough chip that he conservatively put 15 feet by the hole. Then came an approach from the adjacent fairway at No. 2 that went over the back of the green and left another challenging pitch that he put 30 feet by the hole.

The third bogey came from a poor pitch from short of the third hole that ran 15 feet long.

Woods followed with a 7-foot birdie on the fourth, but settled into a routine of fairways, greens and two-putt pars that on this day caused him to lose ground with the leaders.

Scoring is better on the back nine, but that’s where Woods fell apart.

After missing a short birdie on the 10th, he hooked his drive on No. 11 that rattled around a portable toilet and settled under a pine. Looking for a way out, Woods said to photographers crowded by his line, “Can you get the hell out of the way?”

There wasn’t noticeable anger in his voice, but it showed his frustration in the round. He chipped from under the tree, through a patch of sand and next to a crushed beer can where the gallery had been sitting. Then, he hooked a fairway metal into the gallery, pitched on to about 45 feet and settled for bogey.

That was followed by a pulled iron shot into a bunker on No. 12 for another bogey, and his luck got worse on the 13th when he tried to drive the green, and his flop shot went just long enough that it sat atop a hill over the green instead of running back down the slope within easy birdie range.

Woods closed with a 73 at the Chevron World Challenge last year, losing a four-shot lead to Graeme McDowell, who beat him in a playoff. Before that, Woods was tied with Vaughn Taylor in the opening round of The Barclays in 2010, then shot 73 in the second round.

Asked if he were disappointed, Woods replied, “Well, 75s are never exciting.”

He wasn’t giving up on his chances to win for the first time since the Australian Masters two years ago in Melbourne.

“I need to play good on that front nine. Anything can happen on the back nine,” Woods said. “If I can just play a good, solid front nine and get things going on the back nine, they have some easy holes on the back nine. If I can shoot some low scores, I’ll be right there.”

Senden was the odd man out when International captain Greg Norman made his two picks for the Presidents Cup. He went with Aaron Baddeley, based on his play in the Tour Championship.

Senden still put himself in position to make this a great trip home.

“Today was moving day and there is a long way to go,” he said. “Shooting 9 under, you don’t do that very often and you have to take it when you can get it and put yourself in a good spot.”

– Associated Press

• • •

Take a look at our in-depth Tiger Tracker from the third round of the Australian Open on the par-72 The Lakes GC (6,210 meters, or 6,791 yards) in Sydney:

HOLE 18, PAR 3 (191 meters; 209 yards)

Tiger closes with a beautiful tee shot at the finishing hole, as his ball rolls inside 9 feet at the par 3.

Tiger misses one final putt low and closes with 3-over round of 75. It certainly felt like a step back for Tiger Woods, who appeared to have turned a corner in his comeback over the past two days.

He will enter the final round six shots behind John Senden, who shot 9-under 63 Saturday at the Lakes GC.

Final: 6 under (3 over today)

HOLE 17, PAR 5 (454 meters; 496 yards)

Tiger's confidence with the driver may be gone, as he elects to take an iron off the tee at the short par-5. He finds the fairway, nonetheless.

Tiger's second shot is pushed and it lands in the greenside bunker short and right. He plays a nice bunker shot and uses the slope and the ball runs out to about 8 feet, but Tiger misses the putt low and walks away with another par.

Through No. 17: 6 under (3 over today)

HOLE 16, PAR 4 (396 meters; 432 yards)

Tiger hits a stinger off the 16th tee and finds the right side of the fairway.

Woods hits a nice shot into the green, again pin-high and about 20 feet left of the flag.

His putting woes continue and he misses another low.

Through No. 16: 6 under (3 over today)

HOLE 15, PAR 3 (174 meters; 190 yards)

Tiger's tee shot at the par-3 15th lands pin-high, but feeds all the way to the back fringe and leaves him with a lengthy breaker for birdie.

Another good putt from Tiger, but just a foot short. Another par.

Through No. 15: 6 under (3 over today)

HOLE 14, PAR 5 (502 meters; 549 yards)

After hitting the fairway, Tiger hits a good approach into the par-5 and hits the green in two – unfortunately he didn't reach the top tier and will have a long uphill putt for eagle.

Tiger hits a great putt, but it has just a bit too much pace and lips out. He taps in for birdie to get back to 3 over for the day.

Through No. 14: 6 under (3 over today)

HOLE 13, PAR 4 (288 meters; 312 yards)

Uh, oh. Tiger's got the driver out again.

He pushes his tee shot way right, but he's in fine shape – a fairway over with a pitch shot left into the par-4 13th. Tiger runs his chip shot 25 feet past the pin and into the fringe. He'll have a tough, downhill come-backer for birdie.

His putt runs out of speed and stops a few inches from the hole. Tiger taps in for par.

Through No. 13: 5 under (4 over today)

HOLE 12, PAR 4 (409 meters; 447 yards)

Tiger hits the 3-wood at the 11th and finds the fairway. The struggles continue for Woods, as his approach comes up short in the greenside bunker.

A very mediocre shot from the bunker leaves Tiger with a 20-footer for par. He puts a good roll on it, but the putt lips out and it's another bogey for Tiger, his fifth of the day.

Through No. 12: 5 under (4 over today)

HOLE 11, PAR 5 (528 meters; 577 yards)

Back to the driver and back to the left. . . way left. Tiger hits a massive pull and is visibly frustrated on the tee. It will be interesting to see where that ball ended up because it appears to have landed in a bush way left.

From a nasty lie, Tiger is able to barely punch back to the fairway and will have over 280 yards into the green.

More trouble for Tiger: His third shot clears the water, but goes way left and sends the gallery scrambling. He'll have a lot of work to do to get down in five.

Woods' only shot is a knock-down punch from the lip of a waste bunker, which finds the green but leaves him with a 40-foot rollercoaster for par. A nice putt for par for Tiger, but it comes up 3 feet short.

He taps in for bogey and drops another shot on the leaders.

Through No. 11: 6 under (3 over today)

HOLE 10, PAR 4 (314 meters; 343 yards)

Tiger hits the left side of the fairway at the short par-4 10th and hits a half wedge inside 10 feet. He'll have another good look at birdie.

The putter just hasn't cooperated today for Tiger as he misses another inside 10 feet. He'll tap in for par and move to No. 11.

Through No. 10: 7 under (2 over today)

HOLE 9, PAR 3 (142 meters; 155 yards)

Tiger hits a nice shot at the front nine's closing hole, carrying straight over the flag and spinning back to seven feet. Good birdie chance upcoming.

Another par for Tiger, as his birdie chance was over-read and didn't break back.

Through No. 9: 7 under (2 over today)

HOLE 8, PAR 5 (503 meters; 550 yards)

Tiger goes back to the driver at the par-5 eighth and splits the fairway. He should at least have a look at hitting the green in two at the hole Adam Scott made an albatross earlier this week.

Tiger has about 265 yards into the green, and his expletive reaction says it all. He pulls his 3-wood into the waste area left of the green and should have a tricky escape upcoming.

Woods hits a marvelous flop shot to 12 feet from the thick rough. He misses the putt high and taps in for par. Jason Day makes a bomb ahead on the ninth and moves to 10 under, three shots ahead of Tiger.

Through No. 8: 7 under (2 over today)

HOLE 7, PAR 4 (156 meters; 171 yards)

At the first par 3 of the day, Tiger carries his tee shot a bit far, but gets a generous roll from the hill, which pushes the ball onto the back corner of the green. He'll have 30 feet for birdie.

Tiger's birdie attempt stays right the whole way and he taps in for par.

Through No. 7: 7 under (2 over today)

HOLE 6, PAR 4 (312 meters; 341 yards)

Tiger hits another fairway at the short par-4 sixth. He hits his approach inside 20 feet, just past pin-high.

Tiger's birdie chance peels off to the right and he taps in for another regulation par, remaining one shot off the pace.

Through No. 6: 7 under (2 over today)

HOLE 5, PAR 4 (363 meters; 397 yards)

Tiger finds the left side of the fairway at the fifth, but leaves his approach on the front of the green. He'll have a birdie putt of 40-plus feet.

Woods' birdie putt comes up four feet short. Tiger sinks the par putt and moves onto the sixth.

Through No. 5: 7 under (2 over today)

HOLE 4: PAR 4 (339 meters; 371 yards)

Back to the 3-iron on the fourth tee for Tiger, who finds the right side of the fairway. He'll be looking to hit his first green of the day with the upcoming approach.

Mission accomplished. Tiger will try to right the ship after hitting his approach to six feet at the fourth.

Tiger converts the birdie at the fourth and gets back to 7 under and moves within a shot of leader Jason Day. O'Malley also makes his first par of the day.

Through No. 4: 7 under (2 over today)

HOLE 3: PAR 4 (444 meters; 485 yards)

Tiger pulls driver again and misses the fairway up the right, landing in the fairway waste bunker. From a nasty lie and with the ball above his feet, Woods actually gets a good amount of club on it and leaves his ball 20 yards short of the green.

Tiger's chip shot settles about seven feet past the hole. He'll yet another chance to save par.

Ouch. Another bogey for Tiger. His par putt misses low.

Meanwhile, another bogey for O'Malley, who is now 4 over through three.

Through No. 3: 6 under (3 over today)

HOLE 2: PAR 4 (400 meters; 437 yards)

Tiger pulls driver at the second and pull-hooks it left. That was the one weakness in Round 1. He hit his fairway woods very well, but as it has been for the past few years, the driver was a big question mark.

Woods has caught a nice break actually, pulling it so far left that he's in the middle of the eighth fairway. He carries his approach pin-high but gets a large bounce forward and rolls well down the hill behind the green. Another tough up-and-down upcoming. . .

Tiger flies his chip shot about 20 feet past the pin and will have another unlikely attempt at par. Meanwhile, O'Malley, who also flew the green, tried a bump and run up the hill, but didn't put enough on it, causing the ball to trickle all the way back down the hill. He's staring at at least another bogey.

Woods' par attempt runs out of steam and trails off. He makes bogey and falls into a four-way tie for the lead with Aussies Jason Day, Matthew Jones and Greg Chalmers.

O'Malley makes double after struggling on the green.

Through No. 2: 7 under (2 over today)

HOLE 1: PAR 4 (365 meters; 399 yards)

"From the United States. . . Tiger Woods."

Tiger, wielding a 3-iron on the first tee, hits the right side of the first fairway with a low runner. Not only is Tiger back on top of the leaderboard, but the famous stinger seems to be back, too.

Hitting down-wind, Tiger hits it a half-club deep and bounces over the green. He won't have much green to work with on the way back.

Woods runs his chip shot about 12 feet past the hole and will have a tough par save upcoming.

Good speed, but Tiger misses right at the opening hole and taps in for bogey. O'Malley three-putts from 20 feet and also makes bogey.

Through No. 1: 8 under (1 over today)


For a recap of his second round, click here.

Want more on his first round, check out our Tiger Tracker from Day 1.

And if you are looking for first-round pictures, click here.

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