Woods finds an extra gear to beat locals in Melbourne

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Tiger Woods celebrated his first visit Down Under in 11 years with a win at the Australian Masters yesterday, the world No 1 banishing his swing demons in time to hold off a dogged local field by two strokes.

Woods, joint leader overnight with Australia's James Nitties and Greg Chalmers, carded a four-under 68 to finish with a 14-under total of 274 in bright sunshine at Kingston Heath Golf Club.

Chalmers finished second on 276, with American Jason Dufner and France's Francois Delamontagne two shots further back at the £800,000 co-sanctioned tournament.

"It was a great day today," Woods, wearing the tournament's "gold jacket", told reporters after a five-birdie one-bogey round that was followed by a large share of the 25,000 spectators at Kingston Heath.

"Now I've won on every continent which is nice, except for Antarctica ... To have won on every playable continent is something I've always wanted to do, and now I've done that."

After wayward driving and putting saw Woods cast a dejected figure on Saturday, the 14-time major champion quickly found his groove during the final round, with a birdie on the first after splitting the fairway with his drive.

A pair of sublime iron shots on the fifth and sixth holes – the first landing within three feet of the pin, the next two feet closer – put Woods two strokes clear of the field.

However, it was a saved-par putt on the ninth that gave Woods, who struggled on the greens on Saturday, an important shot of confidence heading back into the clubhouse.

"Certainly I did not play well yesterday as I described," Woods said. "I left myself about an eight-footer for par and I made that, so I was able to keep some of the momentum I'd built up over the first eight holes."

After another birdie on the par-five 12th, Woods ending with a bogey on the 13th after fluffing a sand-wedge approach to miss the green. But a birdie on the par-three 15th and three straight pars to finish were enough to shut out Chalmers, who had his chances to close the gap, but let himself down on the greens.