SYDNEY Tiger Woods will make his first appearance Down Under in over a decade after the world number one agreed to play at this year's Australian Masters.
Woods has not played in Australia since the 1998 Presidents Cup but has signed on to play the Australian Masters at Kingston Heath in Melbourne from November 12-15.
Local media reported that Woods would be paid an appearance fee of $3 million (2.1 million pounds). Tournament officials said his fee would be money well spent.
"Many many people in Australia depend on their incomes and their jobs from the golf industry," the Australasian Tour's director of tournaments Andrew Langford-Jones told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.
"It's no different from the car industry or any other industry.
"And the fact that someone like Tiger Woods, and Tiger Woods comes along once every well 100 years -- in fact he's never come along before he's that good -- I guess the impetus that will give will be fantastic."
Woods visited Australia in 1996, 1997 and 1998 without winning a tournament and also played the 2002 New Zealand Open.
SUCK UP SPONSORSHIP
His appearance at the Masters is sure to add interest to the event but Australia's five-times British Open champion Peter Thomson said he was worried about the impact on sponsorship for other events.
"In my view it's going to do a lot of damage to our national Open, which comes two weeks after this one in Melbourne," Thomson said.
"The Australian Open is our national championship, it is the most important event that we have.
"He won't be playing in that but that sucks up all the potential sponsorship."
Stuart Appleby, one of Australia's leading players, said Woods would have a positive influence on the local circuit.
"It will be great for the game and bring out a lot of people who haven't seen him before -- in person, not on a video game," Appleby told reporters.
"There's a lot of people hurting in Australia, and they might look negatively that one guy is paid $3 million just to turn up.
"The common man won't understand the business model because the government is paying for it. They might not see the money he brings in."
(Reporting by Julian Linden; Editing by Peter Rutherford)