Tiger's rally falls short in Australia

Defending champion Tiger Woods tees off on the fourth hole during the final round of the Australian...

Defending champion Tiger Woods tees off on the fourth hole during the final round of the Australian Masters at the Victoria Golf Club near Melbourne November 14, 2010. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

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, Last Updated: 12:33 PM ET

Cheltenham, Australia - Despite picking up six strokes in the last six holes Sunday, Tiger Woods was unable to repeat as champion at the JBWere Masters.

Woods started the final round 10 strokes off the lead and was 11 back after 11 holes; however, he carded two birdies and two eagles in the last six holes to shoot six-under 65 at Victoria Golf Club.

He finished alone in fourth at seven-under-par 277, which left him three shots behind winner Stuart Appleby. The 65 for Woods matched his low round of the year, and he posted back-to-back top-10 finishes for the first time in 2010.

Woods started his round with a bogey on the first. He bounced right back on No. 2 after sinking a sand shot for birdie. After five straight pars from the third, Woods tripped to another bogey at the eighth after missing the green to the left.

"Unfortunately, I missed a short one there at one and another at eight; that certainly did not help at all," Woods stated.

That was his last bogey of the day. Woods two-putted for birdie on the par- five ninth to get back to minus-one. He rolled in a four-footer for birdie at the 13th to kick off his closing charge.

Woods drove to the green at the par-four 15th and drained a long eagle attempt to get to minus-four. He parred the par-three 16th, then had back-to-back par- fives to close out the round.

On the 17th, Woods got up and down for birdie from left of the green. At the last, the former world No. 1 drained a 12-footer for eagle to close at seven- under.

He walked off the course three back, but was pleased with how he finished.

"I'm pretty excited that some of the things I'm working on are starting to gel, but unfortunately not for the entire round," said Woods. "They're sporadic. I need to do some work with Sean (Foley) when I get home."

After winning this title last year, Woods' personal life went in a tailspin. Two weeks after that victory, he was involved in a car accident that touched off revelations of his extra-marital affairs.

Woods hasn't hoisted another trophy since and lost his No. 1 ranking to Lee Westwood last week. Woods has one more tournament this season, his own Chevron World Challenge.

Appleby flew up the leaderboard with four birdies in a seven-hole span from the fourth to the 10th. That run got him to minus-eight, where he was still several strokes behind three-round leader Adam Bland.

However, Bland tumbled down the leaderboard, and Appleby took advantage of his countryman's troubles. After making a long par putt on 16, Appleby birdied the 17th to grab a share of the lead. Then, he two-putted for birdie at the last to go up by one. Appleby claimed this title for the first time when Bland couldn't match him.

"I made some bombs and missed some, too, so I guess if you hit it close enough, you should be making about half, but when you're talking 10-meter putts, it's a bit shaky," said Appleby, who fired a 59 in the final round to win the PGA Tour's The Greenbrier Classic earlier this year.

"I was trying to think about that round today, about what was I doing. There weren't as many opportunities out here, but I was just trying to be that guy."

Bland had two birdies and a bogey through four holes to move to 12-under, where he led by four. It was all downhill from there.

The Australian faltered to back-to-back bogeys from the seventh. Bland later dropped shots on 12 and 14 to fall to minus-eight. Needing an eagle at the last to force a playoff, Bland knocked his second shot to nine feet.

Bland two-putted for birdie, which left him with a two-over 73. He took second place at nine-under-par 275. Daniel Gaunt (71) also two-putted for birdie at the last to take third at minus-eight.


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