The Australians Are Getting Their $3 Million Worth
By Stephanie Wei under General

After a disappointing final round at the HSBC Champions, Tiger Woods fled to Melbourne, the site of this week’s Australian Masters. He was swept away in a not-so-discreet black limousine to his hotel, where he entered through a covert passage. The peace and quiet only lasted for so long.

With only a brief respite from the media frenzy he endured last week (including the endless flashbulbs from unseasoned Chinese golf fans), Tiger was greeted by yet another horde of enthusiastic reporters and fans when he arrived at Kingston Heath Golf Course on Tuesday:

Woods tuned up for this week’s AU$1.5 million dollars ($1.4 million) Masters with a nine-hole practice round in front of throngs of spectators and a low-flying helicopter scanning his every move.

With his first appearance in Australia since 1998, an estimated 7,000 eager spectators flocked to watch him play nine practice holes — the same amount that followed him in his final round last week — and request an autograph. Just to catch a glimpse of the world’s number-one golfer practicing. Imagine the inevitable circus when an expected 25,000 fans track his every shot once the actual tournament begins. Insanity.

[Photo by Lucas Dawson/Getty Images AsiaPac]