TIGER WOODS has claimed the winner’s gold jacket at the Australian Masters and while it may not mean as much to him as a green one, the world number one seemed to enjoy his sojourn Down Under.
The $270,000 first prize cheque should be enough to cover the petrol money for his private jet home, with enough left over for plenty of nibbles for the friends and family accompanying him.
As Woods said after accepting the cheque, his mum has spent about that much on furry kangaroos and other souvenirs whilst in Australia.
Of course there is also the matter of the $3.3 million paid to him by the Victorian Government and others to tackle his first Australian tournament in 11 years.
Woods was gracious in victory and left the door open to being back sooner or later – that should at least be for the 2011 Presidents Cup in Melbourne – but no doubt there are already minds whirring away in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane on means of making that happen next year.
Woods struggled to make par on Saturday but there was no sign of that when he stepped up to the plate on Sunday before a crowd of 25,132 wearing the now famous red and black final day uniform.
He seemed to immediately ease into overdrive and even Aussie playing partner Cameron Percy was applauding some of the approach shots.
Woods fired a final round four under 68, finishing on 14 under for the tournament, two shots ahead of overnight co-leader West Australian Greg Chalmers (70) who finished in outright second place.
Frenchman Francois Delamontagne (69) and American Jason Dufner (70) finished a further shot back and tied for third while overnight leader James Nitties shot a final round 73 to finish outright fifth.
Percy (72) finished equal sixth on eight under par alongside fellow Australian Adam Scott whose final round 69 matched his Saturday score. Stuart Appleby (71) finished a solid tournament a further shot back in eighth place whole Victorian Craig Scott (69) continued a run of impressive form tying for ninth place alongside Swede Klas Eriksson and Spain’s Alejandro Canizares (68).
But it was the 14 time Major Champion who once again stole the limelight, delighting the fascinated Australian crowd with his seventh win of the year and his 93rd career victory. After his round Woods said he had achieved all that he had travelled Down Under to do.
“I got a ‘W, that was the goal this week,” he said.
Complimentary of the Kingston Heath layout, Woods gave it the thumbs up.
“It was a great day today. All the guys have raved about this golf course and I understand why. I enjoy all the sandbelt courses, really, because it brings back shot-making, something that we don’t see enough of in the States.”
Woods began his round with a birdie, quickly evaporating any hangovers from yesterday’s frustrating round of 72. He clicked into gear with birdies at the fifth and sixth making the turn in 33 and picking up another shot at 12 when he smashed a fairway wood from 268 metres to within four metres of the flag, setting up another birdie for a three-shot break on his rivals.
It was when he holed a three-metre birdie putt at the 142-metre par-three 15th that Woods effectively shut out the field but he credited his chasing pack for pushing him all the way.
“James (Nitties) and Greg (Chalmers) back there were playing well, and obviously Cameron (Percy) today could have got off to a quick start. So it was one of those things where you had to make some birdies early, and I was able to do that and I kept it going for most of the day.”
Chalmers, the 1998 Australian Open Champion and current USPGA Tour player, managed some early birdies to keep in contention but near misses for birdie at 14 and 16 proved costly. Despite his runner up finish the West Australian was pleased with his performance and the atmosphere that the tournament had provided for the players all week.
“Even though I finished second, I’m thrilled he was here, I wish he would come every couple of years,” said Chalmers.
“It’s been a pretty fantastic week with the crowd and the atmosphere we had as golfers, it was like a football crowd brought to the golf.”
“That was special, very exciting and it made you play better – it certainly did for me, anyway.”
Adelaide’s Adam Bland’s 67 was the best of Sunday’s rounds while two former Masters champions, Craig Spence, the 1999 winner and Aaron Baddeley (2007) both matched Woods’ 68.
Defending titleholder Rod Pampling fired a final-round 73 to finish equal-14th at minus-four overall.
Victorian Alistair Presnell finished on five under for the tournament in a tie for 12th place and continues to hold the number one position on the Australasian Tour Order of Merit.
With five events remaining on the 2009 Schedule in the race for the Norman Von Nida Order of Merit Medal, Presnell, winner of the 2009 Moonah Classic is on top with $223, 212, just over $29,000 ahead of second placed Michael Sim ($204, 087) with Steve Alker third ($181, 058) and Greg Chalmers fourth ($153, 000).