Sunday, November 13, 2011


While some of golf's biggest stars lost their heads in the heat of battle, Greg Chalmers calmly plotted his way round The Lakes and upstaged them all on the final day of the Australian Open at Sydney
The ungainly looking West Australian left-hander, based in Dallas, came into the tournament ranked No.215 in the world.
He won this event in 1998, and remains a wizard around the greens, but he simply wasn't mentioned in the lead-up.
People were too busy assessing the relative merits of Tiger Woods, Jason Day, Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy and half the US Presidents Cup team.
Who remembered that Chalmers was runner-up when Woods last won a tournament, at the Australian Masters two years ago?
Chalmers is pretty anonymous and he seems to like it that way.
While Tiger was in his customary last-day red, Chalmers chose an ordinary blue shirt.
"I did my best to dress like a volunteer - I thought that might help," he said, without a hint of false modesty.
If you want further proof of the sort of a bloke he is, watch the video of his walk to the 18th green.
As he was moving towards the greatest triumph of his career there was no fist-pumping or raising his arms aloft.
Instead he noticed a piece of scrap paper blowing across the fairway. He bent down, picked it up, and tucked it away in his golf bag.
He safely made his par and waited for the last group to come in behind him.
His Dallas neighbour and good friend John Senden could have tied him with a birdie at the last.
Chalmers held his breath as Senden's putt snaked its way towards the hole. It slid a couple of centimetres past the right lip.
Chalmers breathed out, picked up his five-year-old son Lachie and gave him a kiss. Then he hugged his mum and dad.
In his victory speech on the final green Chalmers took care to thank everyone he should have, then choked up as he spoke of how much this meant to him.
And you knew it did.
Tiger Woods was within two shots of the lead when he made the turn, having gone mistake-free on the front nine to at least give himself a chance on the risk-reward holes along the back nine of The Lakes.
The task became tougher the way he played the 11th, which ultimately forced a bad decision two holes later.
Woods again hooked his tee shot on the par-5 11th, although with the wind at his back, it sailed over the portable toilet and into a sand dune where spectators had been walking all week. His ball was deep in a heel print, and he played an explosion shot sideways just to get out of that mess. He wound up missing a 7-foot par putt.
He made up for that with an 18-foot birdie on the 12th - one of only five birdies on that hole Sunday - and couldn't figure out how to play the 315-yard 13th. He went with driver for the second straight day, and this time it cost him.
``I shouldn't have gone for it,'' Woods said. ``It's a tough tee shot for me because I'm caught right between clubs. Driver is too much and 3-wood is not enough. I tried to hit a big, slicing driver in there and should have just laid up.
``Unfortunately, I made the wrong decision and it cost me a shot.''
He was lucky it wasn't more. The ball barely carried a pond and embedded into the muck about a foot short of the red hazard line. Instead of dropping on the other side of the water, Woods blasted behind the ball to gouge it forward, only it popped up and struck a tree, bouncing behind and nearly in another pond. His chip came up short, and he had to get up-and-down for bogey.
He still made it interesting by chipping in for eagle from just off the 14th green, then reaching the par-5 17th in two with a shot that caught the ridge and settled 12 feet away. With a chance to tie for the lead, Woods missed the putt, then settled for a two-putt par on the 18th hole from about 45 feet.
``Two bad tee shots on the back nine cost me,'' Woods said.
Even so, there were more positives for him to take out of the week. Coming off another four-week break from competition, he played well enough to win except for not turning his bad round - a 75 on Saturday - into a mediocre round.
It was the first time all year that he had to wait after signing his card to see if his score would be enough. That lasted as long as it took Chalmers to save par from the bunker.
The only other time Woods has featured on a leaderboard Sunday this year was at the Masters, when he was tied for the lead at turn until going even par on the back nine and finishing four shots behind.
Woods has played only four tournaments since then because of injuries to his left leg.
``It's been since Augusta, I had the lead at Augusta on Sunday, that's the last time I've been in that spot,'' Woods said. ``It's been a long time, unfortunately I haven't played a lot of tournaments in between. But it was great to be out there, I had a chance. Unfortunately I didn't post the number I wanted to post.''



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