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Friday, 19 March 2010
2009 Australian Masters - Day 3  (Getty Images)
2009 Australian Masters - Day 3 (Getty Images)

Rounds of 69 from playing partners Greg Chalmers and James Nitties earned the Australian pair a share of the lead at 10 under par with World Number One Tiger Woods after day three of the JBWere Masters at Kingston Heath.

Woods, the only player in the top 12 on the leaderboard not to break par on a day where the conditions were cooler and quieter than expected, conceded his third round score of level-par 72 should have been a lot worse.

“I hit some really good shots out there, but I hit some terrible shots as well - it was either-or - there was no grey area,” said Woods.

“I'm very fortunate to be tied for the lead.”

Very little went right for Woods, who failed to generate any momentum although his waywardness off the tee did not help.

The American started par, birdie, bogey before churning out six successive pars to the turn to be out in 36, and his back nine largely mirrored the front.

The low-point of Woods’ day came at the par-three 11th when, after missing the green to the left, he heaved his chip.

The ball scurried across the glassy green and nestled, fortuitously, on the lip of a bunker on the opposite side and the resultant bogey dropped him back to nine under.

Woods recovered that setback with a belated birdie at the 14th and came close to regaining the outright lead when his four-yard putt for birdie at 16 horseshoed around the hole.

Chalmers, who started the day tied for second with Nitties and Jason Dufner of the United States three shots off the pace, announced himself with four birdies on a near-faultless front nine.

The 36 year old left-hander split fairways, hit greens and gave himself a succession of birdie putts, two of which he managed to sink from long distance.

He found the back nine tougher, but minimised the damage to just a single bogey.

“I would have loved to have taken advantage of some of the shorter holes on the back nine, there's a couple of birdies to be had if you play those holes well,” said Chalmers.

“I played them okay, just not great but I'm pleased, I'm really in a great position going into tomorrow.”

Nitties was the only player in the top 12 not to drop a shot.

The 26 year old had two birdies on the front nine and one on the back to mark his card.

“It was probably my best ball-striking round of the week,” he said.

“It's been good because I was pretty rusty coming in here and didn't have much expectation and I've played myself into form.”

A hot front nine earned Dufner the outright lead at one stage, but he dropped a couple of shots late on to card a 71.

At eight under, the 32 year old from Ohio holds a share of fourth place with Victorian Cameron Percy (69) heading into the final round.

England’s Seve Benson still has a chance to save his European Tour card after a two under 70 lifted him into a tie for 17th.

Rookie Benson is 121st on the money list and needs to climb only two spots for safety, but he must still try to go as low as he can in the final round.

That is because Frenchman Francois Delamontagne, in the hot seat of 119th, produced one of his best performances of the year to be in a tie for sixth only three shots behind Woods, Chalmers and Nitties.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1WOODS, TigerUSA18-14
2CHALMERS, GregAUS18-12
T3DUFNER, JasonUSA18-10
T3DELAMONTAGNE, FrançoisFRA18-10
5NITTIES, JamesAUS18-9
T6SCOTT, AdamAUS18-8
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