Stuart wins Australian Masters; Woods provides late fireworks to finish on a high

Sunday, 14 November 2010 22:56 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Tiger Woods provided the large galleries at the Victoria Golf Club something to remember as he shot his equal-best round of the year, a six-under-par 65, at the Australian Masters on Sunday.

The 34-year-old American, who was reportedly paid a $3 million appearance fee, produced some fireworks down the stretch, highlighted by an eagle two on the par-four 15th, a birdie on the par-five 17th and an eagle three on the par-five 18th to finish on seven-under 277.

After entering the final round 10 shots behind leader Adam Bland he walked off just three shots behind the Australian and with a sniff of victory should Bland or then second-placed Daniel Gaunt succumb to the pressure.

As it turned out, Australian Stuart Appleby trumped Woods by also shooting a six-under 65 to overtake the faltering Bland and Gaunt in the closing holes to win by a single shot.

The 39-year-old Appleby shot a six-under 65, which included 30-foot putts on the 16th hole to save par and 17th to make a birdie, to record a 10-under 274 and hold off the challenge of the overnight leader Bland (73) and Gaunt (71).

Appleby, who had started seven shots behind Bland, clawed his way into contention with six birdies, including one on the final hole to give himself a two-shot cushion to ensure he snatched the A$270,000 ($266,000) winner’s purse from his fellow Australians.

“I was pretty comfortable, I liked the way my game matured this week,” the gold-jacket wearing Appleby told reporters of his final round. “I was just trying to keep moving forward and applying pressure and see what happens.”

Woods, who finished fourth, last won a title when he claimed the gold jacket at nearby Kingston Heath on Melbourne’s sandbelt a year ago, shortly before stories about his personal life developed into a storm that wrecked his marriage, tarnished his clean-cut image and caused him to take a break from golf.