The loudest cheers were for Tiger Woods. The Australian Open belonged to Greg Chalmers.
Chalmers won his national championship for the second time yesterday in Sydney, closing with a 3-under-par 69 to hold off a late charge by Woods and a 50-foot birdie putt by John Senden that nearly forced a playoff.
Woods had his best chance of winning all year.
“Two holes on the back nine today, and I putted awful yesterday, or I would have been right there,’’ Woods said.
Two tee shots led to bogeys on the back nine, though he also made birdie on the second-toughest hole at The Lakes on No. 12, then chipped in from just off the green for eagle on the 14th. Woods missed a 12-foot eagle putt on the 17th for a share of the lead.
Behind him, Chalmers made his final birdie with a brilliant tee shot on the par-3 15th hole to tap-in range, then played mistake-free down the stretch and picked up a meaningful par on the par-3 18th with an up-and-down from the bunker.
Chalmers last won the Australian Open in 1998 at Royal Adelaide, a week before the Presidents Cup in Melbourne.
The matches return to Royal Melbourne this week, and Woods at least showed that he wasn’t a complete waste of a captain’s pick by Fred Couples. He not only was the low American by finishing alone in third, he looked good doing it.
Senden, the 54-hole leader, faltered early but gave himself a chance late with a good pitch across the 17th green for birdie. His long putt on the 18th went over the ridge and broke back toward the high side of the cup but missed by inches. He closed with a 72.
Defending champion Geoff Ogilvy had a 7-under 65 to tie for fourth with Adam Scott (68), Nick Watney (72), Nick O’Hern (72), and Jason Day, who hit his opening tee shot in the water and had a 74.
LPGA - Catriona Matthew won the Lorena Ochoa Invitational for her fourth career tour title, closing with a 1-under 71 for a four-stroke victory in the 36-player event.
Matthew, the 42-year-old Scot whose last victory came in the 2009 Women’s British Open, had a 12-under 276 total at Guadalajara (Mexico) Country Club and earned $200,000.
Anna Nordqvist and 2010 winner I.K. Kim tied for second. They each shot 71. Hall of Famer Juli Inkster had a 72 to tie for fourth with Ai Miyazato (71) and Hee Kyung Seo (69) at 5 under.
Michelle Wie, the 2009 winner, tied for ninth at 2 under after a 71.
Top-ranked Yani Tseng shot a 72 to tie for 19th at 3 over.
European - Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines and Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano will complete a playoff today to decide the winner of the Singapore Open after rain forced play to be halted yesterday.
After tying at 14-under 199 after the third and final round, Pagunsan and Fernandez-Castano teed off on the playoff hole when play was suspended for 90 minutes because of rain and the threat of lighting. The storm let up briefly, allowing players to hit one more shot before more rain stopped play for good.