Tiger fires 67; Chalmers wins Aussie Open
The loudest cheers were for Tiger Woods. The Australian Open belonged to Greg Chalmers.
Chalmers won his national championship for the second time Sunday, closing with a 3-under 69 to hold off a late charge by Woods and a 50-foot birdie putt by John Senden that nearly forced a playoff.
Woods had his best chance of winning all year.
"Two holes on the back nine today, and I putted awful yesterday, or I would have been right there," Woods said.
Two tee shots led to bogeys on the back nine, though he also made birdie on the second-toughest hole at The Lakes, on No. 12, then chipped in from just off the green for eagle on the 14th. Woods missed a 12-foot eagle putt on the 17th for a share of the lead.
Behind him, Chalmers made his final birdie with a brilliant tee shot on the par-3 15th hole to tap-in range, then played mistake-free down the stretch and picked up a meaningful par on the par-3 18th with an up-and-down from the bunker.
Chalmers last won the Australian Open in 1998 at Royal Adelaide, a week before the Presidents Cup in Melbourne.
The matches return to Royal Melbourne next week, and Woods took a big step toward validating his selection by captain Fred Couples. Woods not only was the low American by finishing alone in third, but he looked good in doing it.
It was Woods' best result against a full field since he last won, two years ago at the Australian Masters.
"I felt great," Woods said. "It's nice to finally be healthy again."
Chalmers finished at 13-under 275.
Senden, the 54-hole leader, faltered early but gave himself a chance late with a good pitch across the 17th green for birdie. His long putt on the 18th went over the ridge and broke back toward the high side of the cup but missed by inches. He closed with a 72.
Defending champion Geoff Ogilvy shot 7-under 65 to tie for fourth with Adam Scott (68), Nick Watney (72), Nick O'Hern (72) and Jason Day, who hit his opening tee shot into the water and posted 74.
"If I keep putting myself in these kinds of positions, it's only a matter of time I learn the formula and break through and start to win," said Day, who has only one PGA Tour win in his four years on the U.S. tour. "I'm very positive about where my game is right now."
Six players from the top 10 at The Lakes will be at Royal Melbourne next week for the Presidents Cup.
Woods was within two shots of the lead when he made the turn, having gone mistake-free on the front nine to at least give himself a chance on the risk-reward holes along the back nine of The Lakes.
The task became tougher the way he played the 11th, which ultimately forced a bad decision two holes later.
Tiger Woods at the Australian Open: Day 4
A look at Tiger Woods' final round in Sydney.
Woods again hooked his tee shot on the par-5 11th, although with the wind at his back, it sailed over the portable toilet and into a sand dune where spectators had been walking all week. His ball was deep in a heel print, and he played an explosion shot sideways just to get out of that mess. He wound up missing a 7-foot par putt.
He made up for that with an 18-foot birdie on the 12th — one of only five birdies on that hole Sunday — and couldn't figure out how to play the 315-yard 13th. He went with driver for the second straight day, and this time it cost him.
"I shouldn't have gone for it," Woods said. "It's a tough tee shot for me because I'm caught right between clubs. Driver is too much and 3-wood is not enough. I tried to hit a big, slicing driver in there and should have just laid up.
"Unfortunately, I made the wrong decision, and it cost me a shot."
He was lucky it wasn't more. The ball barely carried a pond and embedded into the muck about a foot short of the red hazard line. Instead of dropping on the other side of the water, Woods blasted behind the ball to gouge it forward, only it popped up and struck a tree, bouncing behind and nearly into another pond. His chip came up short, and he had to get up-and-down for bogey.
He still made it interesting by chipping in for eagle from just off the 14th green, then reaching the par-5 17th in two with a shot that caught the ridge and settled 12 feet away. With a chance to tie for the lead, Woods missed the putt, then settled for a two-putt par on the 18th hole from about 45 feet.
"Two bad tee shots on the back nine cost me," Woods said.
Even so, there were more positives for him to take out of the week. Coming off another four-week break from competition, he played well enough to win except for not turning his bad round — a 75 on Saturday — into a mediocre round.
It was the first time all year that he had to wait after signing his card to see if his score would be enough. That lasted as long as it took Chalmers to save par from the bunker.
The only other time Woods has featured on a leaderboard Sunday this year was at the Masters, when he was tied for the lead at the turn until going even par on the back nine and finishing four shots behind.
Woods has played only four tournaments since then because of injuries to his left leg.
"It's been since Augusta; I had the lead at Augusta on Sunday. That's the last time I've been in that spot," Woods said. "It's been a long time, unfortunately I haven't played a lot of tournaments in between. But it was great to be out there. I had a chance. Unfortunately, I didn't post the number I wanted to post."
- Associated Press
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Take a look at our in-depth Tiger Tracker from the final round of the Australian Open on the par-72 The Lakes GC (6,210 meters, or 6,791 yards) in Sydney:
LEADERBOARD UPDATE: 12:30 A.M. EASTERN
Greg Chalmers has officially eliminated Tiger Woods by getting up-and-down from the greenside bunker on No. 18 and finishing the tournament at 13 under.
The only player on the course that can catch Chalmers is overnight leader John Senden, who just birdied the par-5 17th and is one shot behind.
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LEADERBOARD UPDATE: 12:20 A.M. EASTERN
Greg Chalmers plays it safe at the par-5 17th and picks up a par.
Chalmers has found the greenside bunker on the par-3 18th. Bogey would keep him in the lead, while a double would tie him with Tiger.
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Greg Chalmers found a greenside bunker on his second shot at No. 16, but got up-and-down to stay at 13 under, two shots ahead of Tiger Woods and John Senden.
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HOLE 18, PAR 3 (191 meters; 209 yards)
Tiger hits 7-iron and leaves it about 45 feet right of the hole. A long birdie is looking necessary, as Greg Chalmers put his tee shot on No. 15 within a few feet and likely to move to 13 under.
After backing off the putt once, he hammers it up the green and it comes to rest less than 3 feet away. He makes that to shoot a 5-under 67.
Stay tuned to the Tracker, as we'll keep you updated on how the rest of the leaderboard fares as the players make their way through the last four holes on the course.
Through 18 holes: 11 under (5 under for the day)
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HOLE 17, PAR 5 (454 meters; 496 yards)
Tiger hits a 3-iron off the tee and lands in the center of the fairway and will make a run at the green on his second shot.
Tiger hits a magnificent approach shot to the back of the green and has about 10 feet for eagle.
The slick putt slides by on the right and Tiger taps in for a birdie to cut the lead to one, with Greg Chalmers missing a birdie putt on the par-5 14th hole.
Through 17 holes: 11 under (5 under for the day)
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HOLE 16, PAR 4 (396 meters; 432 yards)
Tiger puts an iron in the middle of the fairway and launches his second shot at the green, but it stops 35 feet from the hole to leave Tiger with a lengthy birdie putt.
His putt is on the right line, but is about a foot short and he taps in for a par.
He now heads toward the par-5 17th, likely needing an eagle or birdie to put some pressure on leader Greg Chalmers, who is at 12 under.
Through 16 holes: 10 under (4 under for the day)
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HOLE 15, PAR 3 (174 meters; 190 yards)
Tiger was yelling at his tee shot to bite, as it hit nearly pin-high, but rolls back down the green to give him a lengthy birdie try.
Woods give it a chance, but it comes up two inches to the right and he settles for a par.
Through 15 holes: 10 under (4 under for the day)
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HOLE 14, PAR 5 (502 meters; 549 yards)
Tiger puts his drive in the middle of the fairway and flies his second shot pin-high, only to see it role just off the green into the rough.
Tiger needed something magical to happen and he just did it: He chips in for eagle to move within one shot of the lead.
Through 14 holes: 10 under (4 under for the day)
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HOLE 13, PAR 4 (288 meters; 312 yards)
Many have gone after the green on this par 4, so will Tiger play it safe or try to cut into his two-stroke deficit?
He pushes his drive right inside the hazard line - about 2 feet from water - and his second shot moves backward.
His third shot seemed rushed and he leaves short of the green and now is staring at another bogey if he doesn't chip in.
His chip lips out and he taps in for a bogey and falls three off the pace.
Through 13 holes: 8 under (2 under for the day)
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HOLE 12, PAR 4 (409 meters; 447 yards)
Tiger puts his tee shot in the middle of the fairway and knocks his approach shot to within 15 feet for another look at birdie. Woods will need to post a couple of birdies before he hits the two remainder par 5s to put some pressure on co-leaders Jason Day and Greg Chalmers, who are three shots ahead at 11 under.
Tiger bounces back with a clutch birdie putt, putting it right into the middle of the hole and gives an emphatic fist pump as it rolled in.
Through No. 12: 9 under (3 under for the day)
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HOLE 11, PAR 5 (528 meters; 577 yards)
Tiger hooks his drive left and it buries into the sand. He has to simply move the ball back into the fairway and will have a long third shot into the green.
His third shot sails right in front of the crowd on the left side of the green, leaving Woods with a difficult up and down to save par.
He lofts a beautiful fourth shot to within eight feet, but slides the par putt by on the left and picks up a bogey on No. 11 for the second day in a row.
Through No. 11: 8 under (2 under today)
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HOLE 10, PAR 4 (314 meters; 343 yards)
Tiger hits an iron off the tee, and lands it right in the middle of the fairway. From there, he hits an iron to the back of the green. The wind appears to be picking up as dirt sprays him in the face.
Another easy two-putt from about 30 feet. Another par.
Through No. 10: 9 under (3 under today)
HOLE 9, PAR 3 (142 meters; 155 yards)
Tiger leaves it on the front of the green, about 35 feet from the hole. A good lag putt, another easy par. He'll make the turn two shots behind leader Greg Chalmers.
Through No. 9: 9 under (3 under today)
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HOLE 8, PAR 5 (503 meters; 550 yards)
At the par 5, Tiger draws a 3-wood right into a greenside bunker on his second shot. He easily hits it out and onto the green for another chance at birdie. He taps in the 3-footer and gets to within three shots of the lead.
Through No. 8: 9 under (3 under today)
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HOLE 7, PAR 4 (156 meters; 171 yards)
At the first par 3 of the round, Tiger bounces his ball over the back of the green but manages to avoid a nearby pot bunker. It's a back pin, so there's little green to work with coming back.
Tiger has about a 25-footer, half of which is through the fringe. He pulls a putter and lags it to about 4 feet for an easy par.
Through No. 7: 8 under (2 under today)
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HOLE 6, PAR 4 (312 meters; 341 yards)
Tiger puts his tee shot to 147 yards, knocks it on the green from there.
It's a long, uphill putt for birdie at No. 6 for Tiger. He puts his third shot to about a foot and taps in for par.
Greg Chalmers is the new leader at 12 under, Senden to 11 under after a three-putt bogey at No. 2.
Through No. 6: 8 under (2 under today)
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HOLE 5, PAR 4 (363 meters; 397 yards)
Tiger finds yet another fairway, but sprays his approach short and left. There's visible anger after falling victim to this sucker pin.
Tiger comes onto the green with an aggressive, uphill pitch shot that runs about 8 feet past the hole. It's a firm make in front of a vocal crowd at the fourth green. Another par.
Through No. 5: 8 under (2 under today)
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HOLE 4: PAR 4 (339 meters; 371 yards)
Another ball in the fairway off the tee, and the approach spins back to within 6 feet of the hole. Tiger has put every iron right at the flag today.
Tiger puts his putt squarely in the center of the hole for his second straight birdie. He also birdied this hole in Round 3 after starting with three bogeys.
Two groups behind, it's a bogey start for Day after putting his tee shot in the water left. He drops to 10 under. Opening par for Senden.
Through No. 4: 8 under (2 under today)
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HOLE 3: PAR 4 (444 meters; 485 yards)
Despite trouble at the third tee earlier this week, Tiger pulls the driver and lands it in the fairway. He has been on both sides of this subtle dog-leg right this week, but has a good look at the green today.
The wind is gusting in Sydney today and it causes Aaron Baddeley, playing in the same group as Tiger, to leave his approach short of the green. Tiger puts his in the middle of the putting surface.
Finally a birdie for Tiger. He holes his first sizeable putt of the day just as Day and Senden are teeing it up for the day.
Through No. 3: 7 under (1 under today)
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HOLE 2: PAR 4 (400 meters; 437 yards)
Another fairway hit at the second. Tiger pulls a sand wedge for his 110-yard shot and knocks it to the back half of the green, leaving a lengthy downhill putt for birdie.
The putt never had enough speed, curving to the left but falling just a few inches short and to the left of the cup.
Leader John Senden still on the range, but set to tee off soon with Jason Day.
Through No. 2: 6 under (even today)
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HOLE 1: PAR 4 (365 meters; 399 yards)
Woods begins his final round with a fairway wood from the first tee. He finds the fairway, and he’s off.
The approach shot flies to the back of the green and spins toward the hole. He misses his 15-footer for birdie about two inches to the right of the cup.
Through No. 1: 6 under (even today)