A year ago, with Tiger Woods playing in Australia for the first time in over a decade, tickets to the Australian Masters were sold out six weeks in advance. Thousands flocked to Kingston Heath Golf Course — even for practice rounds — where Woods was treated more like a rock star than a golfer. Apparently, the post-scandal and no-longer-No-1-in-the-world Tiger isn’t generating nearly the same hype. A week before the event kicks off, there are still tickets available to catch Tiger defend his title. In fact, spectators can even purchase them at the gate.
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.”
Fair enough. But it’s hard not to factor in Tiger’s fall from grace as part of the reason. As you may recall, when the National Enquirer caught famed mistress No. 1 Rachel Uchitel at Woods’ hotel in Melbourne, it green-lighted the expose. (And later, travel documents revealed that Tiger’s friend and employee had booked Uchitel’s accommodations.) Good news is he gets to enjoy Melbourne as a single man this time around.
With his improved attitude on the golf course, at least fans won’t have to worry about drivers falling into the gallery. Coincidentally enough, my headline for the epic club throw was “Tiger’s Latest Fling.” Little didn’t we know that it wasn’t far from the truth.