Tiger Woods secures Australian Masters title

150px-Tiger_Woods_USTiger Woods made up for a stuttering display in the third round of the Australian Masters by hitting a final round 68 to win the title by two shots from local hero Greg Chalmers in Melbourne.

Woods becomes only the third American to win the Australian title, following in the footsteps of Mark O’Meara in 1986 and Gene Littler in 2002, and is Woods’ seventh victory of the year.

The world number one is reported to have been paid an appearance fee of AUS $3 million to take part in the tournament, so the paltry prize money of  only AUS $270,000 will seem like lose change, but significantly Woods said after the tournament “Now I have won on every continent except for Antarctica,” and while he may have been joking, it is another significant achievement for the player.

Woods should have started the final round in a more comfortable position than sharing a three way tie for lead, but after struggling with his swing on Saturday hitting a 72, he was happy to still be in contention for the last day.

Woods said after recording his first Australian Masters win;

“I hit some really good iron shots and that was the whole key to the day. I didn’t have a lot of long putts to make. All the guys have raved about this golf course and I understand why. I really enjoy playing on sandbelt courses because it brings back shot-making and we don’t see enough of that.

I would certainly love to come back. I haven’t looked at next year’s tournament schedule yet – I’ll do that next month and get an idea of what I need to do for the entire year and I’ll come up with a game plan.”

Tiger Woods shares first round lead at Australian Masters

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods

All eyes were on world number one Tiger Woods in the Australian Masters in Melbourne, playing in Australia for the first time in eleven years and his first competitive round on Kingston Heath’s sandbelt course.

Woods did pretty much everything right in his first round, hitting a six under par 66 and sharing the end of day lead with 21 year old South African Branden Grace and Australian James Nitties.

A lively 21,000 crowd watched the number one player who putted for birdies on every hole except the last when he pulled his drive into a tea tree, chopped into the rough and took two putts for his only bogey.

The young South African Branden Grace had only entered the tournament in a last ditch attempt to save his card on the European Tour, where he currently occupies 149th place. His best finish on the European Tour this season is a sixth in the South African Open last December.

Grace looked on course to head the leaderboard outright at seven under, but a late dropped shot left him to share the lead on 66. He said after the round:

“I played really solidly today and just really enjoyed it out there. My caddy kept me really calm out there which was a huge help.”

James Nitties who has enjoyed a fruitful debut season on the US PGA Tour, hit a bogey free first round, recording an excellent eagle  on the 516metre par four 15th hole.