Tiger Woods finishes third
SYDNEY -- A final-day rally came up short for Tiger Woods on Sunday at the Australian Open, where he was bidding to win for the first time in two years.
Woods got within one shot after a birdie at the par-5 14th hole but was ultimately doomed by crushing bogeys at the par-5 11th and the short par-4 13th -- a hole that eventual champion Greg Chalmers birdied.
"It could have been a real low round today," Woods said after shooting 5-under-par 67 to finish third, two strokes back. "I've just got to keep plugging along. I'm showing some progress. ... Two holes on the back nine today, and I putted awful yesterday, or I would have been right there."
It was Woods' best finish of an aborted year that has seen him play 11 times due to injuries. Since returning in August, the Australian Open was his fourth tournament.
As a small consolation, Woods was the low American in a field that featured eight players from the 12-man U.S. Presidents Cup team that will play at Royal Melbourne beginning on Thursday.
Chalmers, 38, won his national Open for the second time to go along with his 1998 title. He has two Nationwide Tour victories but none on the PGA Tour or the European Tour. Another former Australian Open champion, John Senden, finished second.
Woods began the final round six strokes back of Senden after a disappointing 75 on Saturday that he will likely look back on as the biggest reason for not winning the tournament.
Harig: Tiger On The Upswing
Tiger might not have earned his first win in two years, but a third-place finish at the Australian Open showed his game is trending upward, writes ESPN.com's Bob Harig. Column
During the third round, Woods took 34 putts and was frustrated by his inability to keep the round closer to par. Had he done so, he might have been celebrating his first victory since Nov. 15, 2009 -- when he defeated Chalmers by two strokes at the Australian Masters in Melbourne.
Unlike Saturday, when Woods bogeyed the first three holes, he got off to a solid start, with birdies at the third and fourth. He added another at the ninth to make the turn in 3 under par.
But for the second straight day, Woods was unable to capitalize on the 11th, a 580-yard par 5 with water running down the right side. Like Saturday, Woods badly missed his drive to the left, and was in a sandy waste area that made for an awkward shot. He had to hit a wood for his third shot to the green, pulled it to the left, and was unable to get up and down for par.
He followed with a birdie at the tough par-4 12th, but then botched the short 13th with another bogey when he tried to drive the green and came to rest in a hazard.
"(No.) 13 is a tough tee shot." Woods said. "I shouldn't have gone for it in hindsight now because I just should have layed up with a 5 iron and a wedge in there. But I figured I needed to shoot somewhere around 31 on that back nine to give myself a chance. I thought 13 or 14 was going to be the number. I had to go get it, unfortunately, I made a mistake there."
Woods chipped in for an eagle at the 14th, then narrowly missed a 15-footer for another eagle at the 17th.
A two-putt par at the 18th left him having to wait for Chalmers -- sort of like Augusta National in April, where he finished before the leaders.
"It's been since Augusta, I had the lead at Augusta on Sunday, that's the last time I've been in that spot," he 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."
Bob Harig is a golf writer for ESPN.com.