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Boycott threat to New Zealand Open

The Australasian PGA Tour said Thursday it is concerned by growing player unrest and tournament boycott threats over ticket prices for the New Zealand Open, where Tiger Woods will be the star attraction.

Australian Peter O'Malley is the latest golfer to threaten a boycott of the tournament and warns more Australians could join the protest started by New Zealand players Michael Campbell and Greg Turner.

The players are angry that a weeklong pass to the Jan. 10-13 event at Paraparaumu, near Wellington, is expected to cost about $200.

A weeklong pass last year cost $20.50.

New Zealand Open organizers are paying Woods a $2 million appearance fee.

O'Malley, a former New Zealand Open champion, said the steep price would deter many golf fans and was not in the best interests of the game.

"While it's great that Tiger is playing, it's taking the average spectator out of the equation," O'Malley said.

"I support the stance of Michael, Greg and the others and if the organizers don't back down on the price of tickets, I and a lot of Australians won't play either."

The tournament is part of the Australasian PGA Tour and tour spokesman Julian Buckmaster said the player complaints were not good for golf.

"It's an obvious concern to the tour that the players are considering such drastic action but really, it's out of our hands," Buckmaster said.

"We don't want the golf public to be disenfranchised," Buckmaster said. "We'd like to see the public have every opportunity to attend tournaments but this is a different situation to most tournaments because Tiger Woods is playing for the first and possibly only time in New Zealand."

Campbell, who won the 2000 New Zealand Open, said the ticket prices were "totally disgusting."

"I understand the organizers' situation because they have to make money somehow through gate sales but they are charging a lot of money and that's why I am taking this stance," Campbell said. "I would love to play Tiger in my own backyard and beat him but unless they change their prices, I am not playing."

 


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