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Rough times for Tiger at Australian Masters

MELBOURNE, Australia - Whatever hopes Tiger Woods had of getting back into the mix at the Australian Masters ended quickly.

His 5-foot birdie putt on the easy opening hole didn't even touch the edge of the cup. Then came a three-putt from some 60 feet on the second hole, with his 4-foot par attempt missing to the right.

It was like that all day, as it has been all week. "If I had putted normally, that's a couple of shots each day and I'm right there in the tournament," Woods said Saturday.

Adam Bland, who was 75th on the Nationwide Tour money list and is headed to the second stage of PGA Tour qualifying school next week in California, kept smiling in miserable weather and shot 1-under-par 70 to build a three-shot lead going into the final round.

Woods shot an even-par 71 and was 10 shots behind, leaving him resigned to going an entire year without a victory.

It was at Kingston Heath a year ago that Woods was atop the leader board from the opening round until he slipped on the gold jacket, winning the Australian Masters for the 82nd victory of his career. He's still waiting on the next one, barring the largest comeback of his career.

"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."

The low scores belonged to everyone else on a rainy day at Victoria Golf Club. Ryan Haller had a 5-under 66 on a day so rugged that the average score was nearly three shots over par. Kieran Pratt, 22, an Australian who turned pro only eight days earlier, got the shock of his life when he wound up in the same group with Woods. He was one shot better than the No. 2 player in the world.

"I saw him walking to the range on Day 1, and it's just unreal seeing him," Pratt said. "To play with him was really cool." And posting a better score? "Icing on the cake," Pratt said.

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