Left-Handed Logic: Chalmers Takes Aussie Open
By Conor Nagle under Tiger Woods

It was Chalmers' second national title.

A closing 67 may have guaranteed Tiger Woods the lion’s share of the post-round headlines, but the final day of the 2011 Australian Open belonged to Greg Chalmers.

The 1998 champion burst from the blocks with a pair of birdies and, by the time he recorded a two at the par-three seventh, had established a two-shot lead.

It was a lead Chalmers refused to relinquish, in spite of spirited challenges from a trio of more illustrious competitors.

First to make his mark was fellow Australian Jason Day, who drew level with the 38-year-old after carding a brace of birdies towards the close of the front nine.

The tyro, who has yet to exhibit a ruthlessness worthy of his talent, would slump to an untidy back nine of 39 and a share of fourth place.

As the challenge of the world number seven faltered, the former World Number One offered glimpses of the single-minded determination that had once set him apart, chipping in for eagle at the 14th to move to four-under-par for his round and within grasping distance of Chalmers’ lead.

Thrust to the centre of a cauldron of mounting hysteria and anticipation, Woods found himself borne along by the rediscovery of his showman’s instincts.

A laser-guided approach to the par-five 17th would leave the 14-time major champion with a putt to reach the summit of the leaderboard, but in deference, perhaps, to History and the changes wrought by two years in the wilderness, its promise remained unfulfilled.

A closing 67 would leave Woods alone in a tie for third place, two shots ahead of a quintet that included Day, Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott, Nick Watney and Nick O’Hern.

If the momentum of both Woods and Day had ebbed prior to reaching the final green, John Senden arrived there on the crest of a wave.

Four bogeys on the front nine appeared to have extinguished the overnight leader’s hopes of securing a second Australian Open title, but a flawless back nine– that included a do-or-die birdie at the penultimate hole– granted the PGA Tour winner a putt to draw level with Chalmers and force a play-off.

An arcing, 50-foot effort, it missed on the high side, guaranteeing Senden a four-round total of 276 (-12) and Chalmers, who’d secured a gutsy par at the home hole, his place in the history books.

Conor Nagle