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Wednesday November 3, 2010

Waning interest in Woods’ return to Melbourne

MELBOURNE: Tiger Woods’ star pulling power is on the wane – if ticket sales for the Australian Masters in Melbourne are anything to go by.

Last year, when Woods won his first tournament in Australia for 11 years, the 20,000 general admission tickets for each of the four days were snapped up six weeks in advance.

But since then a wave of marital infidelity revelations have reshaped the public image of the American 14-time major winner and tickets are still available at Victoria Golf Club for the Nov 11-14 event.

Woods has also just surrendered his world No. 1 ranking to England’s Lee Westwood after a five-year reign at the top.

David Rollo, vice president-director of Golf IMG Australia, whose company runs the Australian Masters, put the weaker demand down to the waning novelty value of Woods’ second straight year in Melbourne, rather than the American’s headline-grabbing fall from grace.

“It was the first time he’d been here in 11 years and at that time I guess there were people who thought he may not be here for another chance to see him,” Rollo said.

“So from that point of view, there was no question last year was a unique set of circumstances.”

Rollo credits Woods with helping to create an impressive field for this year’s Australian Masters.

It boasts Colombia’s Camilo Villegas and Spain’s Sergio Garcia, as well as a strong Australian contingent headlined by Robert Allenby and Geoff Ogilvy. — AFP

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