What a difference a year makes. In November 2009, pre-scandal Tiger Woods got the rock-star treatment at the Australian Masters in Melbourne with sellout crowds eager for a glimpse of Woods in his first Down Under public appearance in 11 years.
Tickets will be a lot easier to find this year when Woods plays the tournament again next week, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
Last year, when his win at Kingston Heath capped his first tournament in Australia for 11 years, the 20,000 general admission tickets for each of the event's four days sold out six weeks in advance. This time, they will still be available at the gate at Victoria Golf Club on November 11-14, although at a $5 premium to those pre-sold for $49 through Ticketek.
David Rollo, vice president-director of Golf IMG Australia, whose company runs the Masters, put the weaker demand down to this being Woods's second straight year in Melbourne, rather than the American falling off his pedestal, both in image and golfing terms.
''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."
Then again, maybe those fans just didn’t want to get hit by a flying golf club after one of Woods’s errant shots. Rules violation costs Monty chance for $1.28 million Colin Montgomerie has had a tough time of it since leading the Europeans to victory at the Ryder Cup in October. Two weeks ago, he was involved in a frightening car accident, and then on Sunday he lost a chance to win the very profitable ($1.28 million) Mission Hills Star Trophy celebrity pro-am in China. The Golf Channel’s Andrew Both has the details:
The incident occurred when Montgomerie’s drive finished a couple of yards behind an advertising sign in the fairway, which blocked the player’s second shot to the hole. Montgomerie’s caddie, Jason Hempleman, and a marshal pulled the sign out of the ground in breach of a local rule.
“Under the conditions of this competition, which are given to every player, the advertising signs (are) temporary immovable instructions,” tournament director David Parkin said. “You can't move them. Unfortunately for Colin, his caddie has helped in the movement of this board. As soon as he moved that it's a two-stroke penalty under our conditions.”
Montgomerie conferred for several minutes after his round with Parkin before signing his card.
Earlier, Parkin approached Montgomerie on the 18th tee to inform the player of the problem. Montgomerie was clearly livid: “David, please don’t start this,” he said.
“Nobody else has moved them,” Parkin said of the signs.
Lorena Ochoa ended up winning the tournament and taking home the check for $1.28 million. Martin Kaymer says No. 1 ranking didn't affect play Lee Westwood is the new world No. 1 this week, but it could have been Martin Kaymer if Kaymer had finished first or second at the Andalucia Masters. Instead, he finished 10 shots back. Afterward Kaymer said the chance to be No. 1 was on his mind, but it didn’t change the way he played, according to Golf365.com.
"Of course I'm disappointed, he admitted when questioned afterwards. "I thought if I had a fast weekend I could still play a role, but I missed too many putts.
"You have to accept it when isn't your week. I don't think trying to get to number one played any part.
"It was in the back of my mind, but I didn't play any differently; any more aggressively or defensively. I liked the challenge and I think I'll have another chance in the next few weeks."
Stray Shots: Things we noticed while dreaming about a 2018 Ryder Cup in sunny Portugal…
Teen phenom Lexi Thompson is asking the LPGA to allow her to become a member so she can play more than six tournaments in 2011. Thompson turns 16 in February, and the LPGA’s age minimum is 18. (Via The Palm Beach Post)
You can’t bid online anymore for the chance to play Pebble Beach with Michelle Wie, but the round will still be offered at a live auction on Nov. 18 to benefit the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation. The last bid accepted online was $3,250. (Via Emily Kay at Golf Examiner)
The Golf.com Truth & Rumors Best Halloween Costume award goes to Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo, who showed up at teammate Paul Pierce’s house dressed as Tiger Woods. (Pierce is the frog and Kevin Garnett is in orange. UPDATE: Also, Jermaine O'Neil is Mr. T, Glen "Big Baby" Davis is in the pajamas, and the guy in the V for Vendetta mask is Delonte West.) Should be fun when the Celtics visit the Orlando Magic and superfan Tiger Woods on Christmas day.