Tiger drops off the pace

TigerTiger Woods settled down after a poor start to remain in touch with the lead, three strokes behind leaders Jason Day and John Senden halfway through the third round at the Australian Open on Saturday.

Any assumptions that Woods would waltz to his first victory in two years were thrown out the window as he bogeyed the first three holes.He got a little unlucky at the first, where he hit what he seemed to think was a good approach shot, only to watch in disbelief as his ball hurtled beyond the green, from where he could not get up-and-down.Poor drives at the next two holes led to two more bogeys, but it was pretty steady stuff after that from the 14-time major winner.

After chaotic gallery scenes early on Thursday, it was a much more controlled scene on Saturday, apart from the occasional camera click at the wrong time.A healthy gallery followed Woods (and Peter O’Malley) but the crowd seemed to be not quite as large as Thursday afternoon.Woods got his round back on track with a birdie at the shortish par-four fourth, and parred the next five holes to the turn.If Woods started poorly, O’Malley was positively dreadful.

He started the day only one stroke behind Woods, but his old bugbear, poor putting, reared its ugly head at the first, where he missed from barely one metre.It got worse at the par-four second, where he took four strokes to hole out from a swale behind the green, dropping two shots and pretty much ending his hopes.Not that the players had any idea where they stood in relation to the field, because there are no leaderboards until the ninth hole.Queenslanders Day (10 holes) and Senden (14 holes) led at 10-under, two strokes ahead of Ryan Haller, who shot 65 to vault into contention at eight-under 208, while Aaron Baddeley carded 67 for five-under 211. – SMH