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Ticket prices rocket in New Zealand

Promoters of next year's New Zealand Open confirmed yesterday that entry prices would be the highest ever for a golf tournament in the country.
Speculation of high prices to cover the cost of the appearance of the world number one Tiger Woods led some New Zealand players to threaten a boycott of the tournament.

Promoters have seized on the huge popularity of Woods to raise entry prices for next January's tournament to NZ$450 (US$195) for the entire tournament from NZ$50, slightly less than the NZ$500 first rumoured.

The world number one is being paid US$2 million to take part in the event, which is being played at Paraparaumu Beach, 50km (30 miles) north of Wellington – the home of Woods’ caddy Steve Williams.

European-based New Zealand pro Greg Turner threatened in July that he and his foreign-based colleagues would boycott the event, as they felt members of the public would be denied the chance to see their national open as well as the world number one.

The NZ$450 price tag easily tops the highest ever season ticket cost for a New Zealand golf event when organisers charged fans NZ$220 for the 1998 World Cup of Golf at Gulf Harbour.

For the first time at a New Zealand golf tournament grandstands, capable of seating up to 15,000 spectators, will be erected around the links course.

In addition to Woods and Campbell, confirmed entries include defending Open champion New Zealander David Smail, US-based expatriates Grant Waite, Craig Perks, veteran New Zealand left hander and former British Open winner Sir Bob Charles, and Australians Craig Parry and Peter O'Malley.

Total prize money for the tournament would be NZ$1 million (US$436,000). - Reuters

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