Woods struggles continue in Australia

Melbourne: Tiger Woods failed to make up any ground Saturday in the Australian Masters with an even-par 71 that left him resigned to going an entire year without a victory. "Unfortunately, I`m so far back that I`ve got to play a great round, and then I need help," Woods said.

"The only thing I can control is hopefully to go out there and put a low one on the board." On a rainy day at Victoria Golf Club, Woods missed three putts inside 5 feet on his opening six holes and didn`t even beat Kieran Pratt, a 22-year-old Australian making his professional debut.

Pratt shot a 70. Woods was at 1-under 212, will need the biggest comeback of his year to win.

That`s been the case most of the year. Adam Bland, who his headed to the second stage of PGA Tour qualifying school next week in California, was even par through 16 holes but still managed to pad his lead to three shots.

Bland was at 10-under par, chased by Daniel Gaunt and Andre Stolz. Stuart Appleby was making a climb up the leaderboard until a double bogey on the par-5 17th made him settle for a 69.

Sergio Garcia got back into contention with a 65 on Friday, then warned his game is still inconsistent and he could easily shoot 75 in the third round. The Spaniard was headed that direction, at 6 over for the day as he played the final hole.

Woods missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the easy opening hole the putt didn`t even touch the cup then three-putted from about 60 feet on the next hole, missing a 4-foot par putt. He also three-putted from just off the sixth green, again from about 60 feet.

A birdie on the final hole at least kept him under par for the tournament. "Again, I struggled with the pace of the greens," Woods said.

"I left countless putts short, got off to a bad start the first couple of holes. Consequently, I didn`t get anything going.

I had a hard time making the adjustment." Woods attributed his poor distance control to the weather cool, at times windy and raining.

"The ball was flying nowhere," Woods said. "I just had to be committed to hitting the ball lower and harder.

I hit a few good ones coming in, but not enough.".

Bureau Report