Stuart Appleby won golf’s Australian Masters by one shot as Tiger Woods’s title defense ended with him matching his best result of 2010, a year in which he didn’t win a tournament.
Appleby, a nine-time winner on the U.S. PGA Tour, fired a 6-under-par final round at Melbourne’s Victoria Golf Club to reel in overnight leader Adam Bland, who missed a 10-foot putt at the last hole that would have forced a playoff.
“I had to try and somehow find a way to get close enough to the leaders where it might make them change the way they were playing,” Appleby said after winning the tournament’s gold jacket for the first time. “It obviously panned out.”
Woods, the world’s No. 2-ranked golfer, also shot a final-round 65 to finish fourth and end a calendar year without a victory for the first time in his career. His last win came at the 2009 Australian Masters at nearby Kingston Heath.
“I finally got it going at the end but it was too little, too late,” said Woods, who began the last day 10 shots behind and ended with a 7-under-par total of 277, three behind Appleby.
Woods, 34, made two eagles and two birdies over the final six holes to tie his lowest score of 2010. He also shot 65s in the first round of the Barclays tournament and the second round of the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Appleby rallied from a seven-shot deficit with a bogey-free final round. He saved par with a 25-foot putt at the 16th, holed a similar putt for birdie on the 17th and closed with another birdie to set up his first win on home soil since 2001.
“It’s very important to me,” added Appleby, 39. “We play around the world for big money, big tournaments and big fancy ratings, but you come home to Australia and it’s for real. It’s not just 72 holes of golf.”
Bland, his fellow Australian, faltered with a two-over-par 73 in his final round, missing the chance to force a playoff when he pushed an eagle putt left of the cup on the last.