Aussie Masters: Tiger Woods Finishes Explosively
By Stephanie Wei under Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods: FORE left!

It was too little, too late, but Tiger Woods polished off the final round of the Australian Masters in style, making two eagles in the last four holes and going six-under in the final six holes to shoot 65. While he’ll go winless (yes, I’m aware that he still has the Chevron Challenge, his exhibition charity event) for the year, he placed alone at fourth in Melbourne for his best finish of 2010. (He T4 at The Masters and the US Open.)

Starting the day 10 shots off the lead, it was unlikely that Woods would defend his title — or, hell, even place in the top-ten. At least his eleventh hour effort gave the Australian crowds something to cheer about (and made it worth some of that $3 million appearance fee).

Woods changed putters from his Scotty Cameron to a Nike Method 003 for the final round. He used the Nike Method in the first three rounds of the British Open in July, citing slow greens as the reason, but he switched back to the Scotty for the final round in Scotland.

“It was fun to make a couple of putts,” Woods said. “It’s amazing what happens when you get a putt to the hole. It actually does go in.”

Tiger’s fourth place finish is also his second top-ten of the year. Last week he finished T6 at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai. It was the first time of the season that he recorded back-to-back top-tens.

Only a year ago, Woods was still at the top of the world — wearing the champion Gold Jacket, winner of six PGA Tour events, unquestionably the world’s No. 1. Only 12 days later, well, you know what happened. Now, he’s lost just about everything. And all things considered, he’s not doing so badly. Forget the swing changes, new coach, and putter swapping, think about the tremendous pressure and shame that he’s playing with. Golf is hard enough when it’s just golf, but add an embarrassed ego to it all and this is the result: Tiger Woods, the world’s No. 2 ranked golfer.

It could be worse.

(AP Photo/Andrew Brownbill)