| 10.5°C Dublin

Tiger getting closer to deadly best

IT was not quite the coronation his play had promised, but yesterday Tiger Woods delivered the most compelling evidence yet of a comeback.

With a luminous final-round 67, golf’s fallen idol sealed third place at the Australian Open: his best finish in an official event for two years.

But for his errant putting, his restoration to the winners’ club would have been assured.

Woods, who had fallen from top of the rankings just over a year ago to 58th, is now up to 50th.

The last time he had featured in the top three in a sanctioned tournament was at the Australian Masters in 2009 - when, ironically, he had held off Greg Chalmers, the very man who thwarted him yesterday.

Chalmers was a model of composure in resisting the late charge by Woods. But it was Woods who detonated the loudest roars around the Lakes course.

Finishing at 11 under par, he also helped justify his controversial selection by Fred Couples for this week’s Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.

“I felt great,” Woods said. “It’s nice finally to be healthy again.”

The prospect of a renewed Woods in a match-play duel is mouth-watering.

“I pretty much hit it on a string,” Woods added, having found 75 per cent of greens in regulation.

The 14-times major winner will continue to search for his old form in front of a bumper crowd at Royal Melbourne Golf Club.

And International team captain Greg Norman has demanded his players seek to emulate the killer instinct Woods showed in his pomp.

“Tiger is very much that way when he walks on there. He kinds of says, ‘I'm here to beat you',” said Norman.

Norman dismissed the idea that he and Couples might seek to avoid a match-up between Woods and Australian Adam Scott, which would bring Scott's caddy Steve Williams in uncomfortable proximity to Woods following a recent racist remark. “If it happens, it happens,” said Norman.

Meanwhile, Steve Stricker has declared himself fit for the Americans, having shrugged off a neck injury that has kept him out since September.

Stricker's partnership with Tiger Woods was instrumental in condemning the Internationals to their third straight loss at the last edition in San Francisco.