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Tiger Woods might miss New Zealand Open

Organisers of the 2002 New Zealand Open demanded crisis talks with Tiger Woods' management after the world No.1 said he was "a definite chance" to bypass the tournament in which he has already been paid NZ$4 million appearance money.

There was a fear Woods might have been letting organisers down gently rather than just coming straight out and scrapping the event from his itinerary.

But a series of telephone hook-ups with Woods' manager, Mark Steinberg from the International Management Group's head office in the United States, has allayed tournament organisers's fears -- at least for the time being.

"We've had three conversations with Mark, one of them involving the full board (of the tournament)," tournament managing director David Pool said from New Zealand last night.

"He assured us that if the world doesn't change dramatically from where we are now, then Tiger's definitely coming to New Zealand.

"The tournament before is the Mercedes Championship in Hawaii and he'll be halfway here anyway."

Woods travels on his private jet and already plans to play exhibition matches in China and Japan in the first week of next month.

Pool and his business partners, the PlusFore Group, acknowledge Woods' situation could change if he was advised by the US State Department against travelling. But in the current climate that is unlikely to happen.

Woods played his first event for six weeks, and his first since the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, at Disney World at the weekend, tying for 16th after a final round three under 69.


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