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Woods slips into share of Aussie lead

A downcast Woods saw his lead disappear at the Australian Masters.
A downcast Woods saw his lead disappear at the Australian Masters.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tiger Woods shares third round lead at the Australian Masters in Melbourne
  • The world number one cards a level-par 72 at Kingston Heath
  • James Nitties and Greg Chalmers shoot 69s to tie world number one

(CNN) -- Tiger Woods stumbled to a level-par 72 to lose the outright lead after the third round of the Australian Masters in Melbourne on Saturday.

The tournament's star attraction was expected to build on his three-shot halfway lead, with one bookmaker already paying out on his victory, but he found company at the top of the leaderboard from Australian pair Greg Chalmers and James Nitties.

The trio are tied on 10-under 206 and world number one Woods admitted it it could have been worse as he struggled at Kingston Heath.

"I hit some really good shots out there, but I hit some terrible shots as well - it was either-or - there was no gray area," he told www.europeantour.com.

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

As Woods mixed two birdies with two bogeys, Chalmers and Nitties both shot three-under 69s.

It means he will chase his first title in Australia playing with fellow American Jason Dufner and Australia's Cameron Percy, who are tied for fourth on eight-under.

I'm very fortunate to be tied for the lead
--Tiger Woods

Chalmers, who finished runner-up to Woods at the Buick Open on the PGA Tour last August, briefly held the lead with a run of four birdies on the outward nine, but has not won at home since the 1998 Australian Open.

"My confidence has been pretty good and I don't look at it that I'm leading any particular one player," he said.

An intriguing final day is in prospect with Australian favorites Stuart Appleby and Adam Scott on six and five under par respectively.

Huge crowds again lined the fairways at the joint Australasian/European Tour sanctioned tournament, mostly coming along to watch Woods, who has been paid a huge appearance fee to tee-up.

But his performance in the third round mirrored a similar slump last week at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai where he fell out of a share of the lead in the third round as arch-rival Phil Mickelson pulled clear.