Tiger Woods’s winless streak extended to two years as the former top-ranked golfer finished two shots behind champion Greg Chalmers at the Australian Open.
Chalmers, an Australian ranked 215 in the world, fired a final-round 3-under-par 69 yesterday to win by a stroke from countryman John Senden with a 13-under-par total of 275 at The Lakes Golf Club in Sydney. He also won the tournament in 1998.
Woods, who held a one-stroke lead through 36 holes, closed with a 5-under-par 67 to finish third, his best result of an injury-interrupted 2011 season. Chalmers was the runner-up when Woods won his last tournament at the 2009 Australian Masters.
“I’ve just got to keep plugging along,” Woods said after finishing with an 11-under total of 277. “I’ve showed some progress. It’s nice to be out here and competitive and actually playing golf again. It’s nice not being on the sidelines.”
It was Woods’s second event since he missed the cut for weekend play at the PGA Championship in August and failed to qualify for the U.S. PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs.
Woods, 35, was playing in the 107-year-old Australian Open in preparation for this week’s Presidents Cup. The event starts Nov. 17 at Australia’s Royal Melbourne Golf Club, where the U.S. team takes on an international squad from outside Europe.
Trailing overnight leader Senden by six strokes going into the final round, Woods rallied with five birdies and an eagle to put himself in contention. He was one of eight players within three of the lead entering the last nine holes and missed a 15-foot eagle putt on the 17th for a share of the lead.
‘Had a Chance’
“I had a chance,” the 58th-ranked Woods told reporters. “Unfortunately I didn’t post the number I wanted to.”
Woods fired three birdies on the front nine before dropping his first shot on the par-5 11th after driving into the sandy rough. He birdied the next hole only to bogey the par-4 13th for the first time during the tournament.
He moved to within one shot of co-leaders Chalmers and Jason Day by chipping in from the fringe of a bunker for an eagle on the next hole. After making par on the 15th and 16th holes and picking up a birdie on the 17th, Woods left a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th short to finish his round two strokes behind Chalmers, who had three holes left to play.
“It was a day that could have been really low,” said Woods, who went 3-over par in his third round. “I hit the ball really good out there.”
Chalmers made par on the final three holes to stay ahead of Senden, who recovered from four bogeys in his opening seven holes to card an even-par 72 and move above Woods into second. Senden missed a 35-foot birdie putt by inches that would have sent him and Chalmers into a sudden-death playoff.
‘Floats My Boat’
“That putt looked like it was going in,” Chalmers, 38, said after taking the Stonehaven Cup for the second time. “To go out there and get that done over the last two days and shoot 8-under on the weekend, that really floats my boat. Now I want to win three.”
Australians Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott and Day, and Nick Watney of the U.S. all tuned-up for the Presidents Cup by finishing four strokes behind in a tie for fourth place with Nick O’Hern, another Australian.
U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples finished with a 5-under-par total of 283 to tie for 15th place, while international team counterpart Greg Norman went 5-over par for the tournament after shooting a 75.