Woods' struggles continue on Day 3 at Australian Masters, falls 10 behind

tiger woods
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Tiger Woods got off to a bad start with his putter, and left many putts short throughout the third round.
Doug Ferguson
Associated Press


Tiger Woods failed to make up any ground in the rain Saturday in the JBWere 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 put him 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 to reach minus-8 and will be in the final group with Bland. Stolz had a 72 and was four shots behind at minus-7.

Stuart Appleby was making a climb up the leaderboard until a double bogey on the par-5 17th made him settle for a 69. He’s at 4 under and tied for fifth, with Geoff Ogilvy and Camilo Villegas two shots further back at minus-2.

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 into a tie for 26th at 2 over.

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.”