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Concerns for New Zealand Open

New Zealand Open organisers are battling the double whammy of atrocious weather and slow ticket sales despite the presence of superstar Tiger Woods.

Promoter Open 2002 Ltd has forked out $US2 million ($A3.93 million) - more than four times the $A820,000 total purse for the tournament - to lure world sport's biggest name down under for the first since the 1998 Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.

But it's now facing financial trouble if the unseasonable weather which is lashing New Zealand persists.

The January 10-13 Australasian tour event, to be held at The Paraparaumu Beach Golf Course near Wellington, has been hit by two-and-a-half times the average December rainfall over the past fortnight.

"It's been absolutely terrible," said a spokesman from TV New Zealand's weather bureau today.

Open 2002 managing director David Pool put on a brave face today, playing down greenkeeper fears about the rain, but admitted ticket sales weren't exactly reaching box-office proportions.

Pool said his staff had undertaken an extensive number crunching exercise but declined to release the exact amount of spectators needed for the risky venture to break even.

"For the event to be a financial success we need to have a reasonable amount get on to the course every day and obviously if the weather is bad, then that would potentially impact on that," he said.

"They're achievable numbers if we get a bit of enthusiasm and a bit of Tiger mania.

Pool said ticket sales opened strongly on September 4 but "really slowed down" a week later following the terrorist attacks on the US when uncertainty surrounding Woods' participation hit home.

He said ticket sales had picked up since leading New Zealand television journalist Paul Holmes snared a seven-minute interview with the world No.1 at the World Cup soccer draw in South Korea this month.

Pool conceded Open 2002 was fortunate to have the support of several major sponsors to help cover the basic costs of the event if it strikes financial problems.


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