GOLF: Tiger fails to make a move
AP Golf Writer
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – Tiger Woods failed to make up any ground in the rain Saturday in the Australian Masters, shooting an even-par 71 that left him resigned to going an entire year without a victory.
Adam Bland, who is headed to the second stage of PGA Tour qualifying school next week in California, started and finished with a birdie for a 1-under 70 that gave him a three-shot lead over Daniel Gaunt – and 10 shots clear of Woods, the defending champion.
“Unfortunately, I’m so far back that I’ve got to play a great round, and then I need help,” Woods said. “The only thing I can control is hopefully to go out there and put a low one on the board.”
All the low scores belonged to everyone else on a rainy day at Victoria Golf Club.
Woods missed three putts inside 5 feet on his opening six holes and didn’t even beat Kieran Pratt, a 22-year-old Australian making his professional debut. Pratt shot a 70.
Woods was at 1-under 212, and will need the biggest comeback of his year to win. That’s been the case most of the year.
Bland briefly slipped into a share of the lead with Andre Stolz after a bogey on the eighth hole, but a birdie on the par-5 ninth allowed him to regain the outright lead, and he never trailed again. He finished with a two-putt birdie on the 18th to reach 11-under 202.
Gaunt had a 68 and will be in the final group with Bland. Stolz had a 72 and was four shots behind.
Stuart Appleby was making a climb up the leaderboard until a double bogey on the par-5 17th made him settle for a 69.
Sergio Garcia got back into contention with a 65 on Friday, then warned his game is still inconsistent and he could easily shoot 75 in the third round. He was close – the Spaniard shot a 77 to fall out of the hunt.
Woods missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the easy opening hole – the putt didn’t even touch the cup – then three-putted from about 60 feet on the next hole, missing a 4-foot par putt. He also three-putted from just off the sixth green, again from about 60 feet.
A birdie on the final hole at least kept him under par for the tournament.
“Again, I struggled with the pace of the greens,” Woods said. “I left countless putts short, got off to a bad start the first couple of holes. Consequently, I didn’t get anything going. I had a hard time making the adjustment.”
Woods attributed his poor distance control to the weather – cool, at times windy and raining.
“The ball was flying nowhere,” Woods said. “I just had to be committed to hitting the ball lower and harder. I hit a few good ones coming in, but not enough.”