Sydney joy for Chalmers

Greg Chalmers held his nerve to claim victory over a star-studded Australian Open field in Sydney on Sunday.

Greg Chalmers held his nerve to claim victory over a star-studded Australian Open field in Sydney on Sunday.

The Australian left-hander’s 13 under par 275 total at The Lakes was good enough for a one-shot victory over overnight leader and fellow Australian John Senden, and came courtesy of a final-round 69 that featured five birdies in all.

Tiger Woods finished third, two shots behind Chalmers, after recovering nicely from his 75 the day before by shooting a five-under 67 in his final round. But for his third-round performance, the former world number one would have almost certainly been celebrating his first victory in over two years.

“Two holes on the back nine today, and I putted awful yesterday, or I would have been right there,” Woods said after his round.

Defending champion Geoff Ogilvy stormed home with a sizzling 65 to finish in a five-way tie for fourth place alongside Adam Scott (68), American Nick Watney (72), Nick O’Hern (72) and Jason Day (74).

Chalmers began the day two shots behind Senden, but three birdies in his first seven holes saw him take an early two-stroke advantage.

Day threatened to join him after birdies at the eighth and ninth, but it was ultimately Woods and Senden who provided Chalmers with the most serious threat.

Birdies at three, four and eight had lifted Woods back into contention, but he then produced bogeys either side of a birdie at the 12th before igniting his round with an eagle at the par-five 14th just like the Tiger of old.

Dressed in his trademark Sunday red, Woods chipped in from off the fringe for the eagle to find himself only one shot off the lead.

He set up another eagle opportunity at the long 17th after a stunning approach, but could only manage the birdie, effectively bringing an end to his challenge.

“I had the lead at Augusta on Sunday (in the 2011 US Masters), that was the last time I’ve been in that spot,” Woods said about his near miss.

“It’s been a long time and unfortunately I haven’t played a lot of tournaments in between.

“I was disappointed yesterday and found some of the old keys (on Sunday).

“(They were) simple fixes, easy fixes. I had to reset my game and I hit the ball really good out there.

“Unfortunately I didn’t post the number I wanted to post.”

Still, Woods was happy to be fit and back in contention.

“I felt great,” he added. “It’s nice to finally be healthy again.”

The tournament ended in a straight out battle between Chalmers and Senden, and it was the former who struck first, restoring his two-shot buffer with a superb birdie at the par-three 15th after a near-perfect tee shot, before holding his nerve with pars at the final three holes, including an impressive up-and-down from the greenside bunker at the 18th.

Senden wasn’t done yet, though, and after a birdie at 17 he set up another opportunity at the last, but narrowly missed the birdie putt that would have forced the play-off.

It was still a great fightback from Senden, who opened with four bogeys on the front nine, but closed with four birdies on the back for a level-par 72 that doesn’t begin to tell the full story of his round.

Chalmers picks up his second Australian Open victory, his first coming way back in 1998.

“I’m just extremely excited and extremely pleased to win this tournament twice,” said the 38-year-old.

“You can stumble into it once but to win it again, in this field, one of the strongest we’ve had fields we’ve had in Australian golf for a long time, that does something for me, that really floats my boat.

Did he know about Tiger charging up the leaderboard?

“I was aware of what Tiger was doing but I also knew I had birdie holes coming up,” he said. “I thought he would have to make another eagle or birdie one of the harder holes.”