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November 19, 2012

Truth & Rumors: Tiger 'minimal' help to Aussie golf, Thompson says

Posted at 12:20 PM by Mark Dee | Categories: Australian Masters, Peter Thompson, Tiger Woods, Truth & Rumors

Tigerwoods_aussie2009Tiger Woods's trips down under aren't worth the sticker price, according to one Aussie legend.

Despite shelling out millions of taxpayer dollars to bring Woods to Australia over the past three years, the country's golf tour has little to show for it, said Peter Thompson, the five-time British Open champion. Thompson said Woods has done nothing to raise the profile of the Australian tour, according to a Reuters report.

"I think Tiger Woods's impact was minimal barring the few days he was here," the 83-year-old said. "It cost heavily and it changed nothing, fundamentally.

"The tour still struggles to attract top players because we can't afford the appearance fees."

Woods played in the 2009 and 2010 Australian Masters and the 2011 Australian Open, and received appearance fees from tournament organizers, which at least one time were subsidized by the government.

Local media reported that Victoria's state government shelled out A$1.5 million ($1.55 million)—or 50 percent of Woods's appearance fee—to attract the 14-times major champion to Melbourne for the Australian Masters in 2009.

With the PGA and European Tours expanding into Asia, the Australian Tour has been largely left behind. And Tiger's presence on the continent has done little to help sustain growth. According to Reuters, last week's Australian Masters saw only "modest" crowds, even though local favorite Adam Scott took the crown.

So what future does Thompson see for Australian golf? Buy in with Asia, and keep his countrymen playing:

"In the long-term there's only going to be three tours, the US, European and one Asian tour," Thomson said.

"The rise of Asia is potentially very lucrative for Australia, because China is very keen on international exposure.

"Of course, they will have a huge number of talented young golfers coming through and we need to encourage them to nurture their careers down here."

[Photo: Tiger Woods at the 2009 Australian Masters. Getty Images]

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