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New Zealand Open facing big loss

Tiger Woods might have to review his standard $2 million (£1.4 million) appearance fee after organisers of the New Zealand Open were left facing a hefty loss.

Woods could finish only joint sixth, six strokes behind winner Craig Parry, of Australia, in a tournament facing a loss of up to £700,000.

A consortium backed by investment bankers FR Partners put up the money to bring Woods to the tournament. They had hoped to recoup their investment from gate receipts. But a combination of rain, which wiped out more than three hours of play on Saturday, and high ticket prices dashed their hopes.

The organisers had been banking on attracting a total of 70,000 spectators over the four days. But after lower-than-expected turnouts on the first two days and the adverse weather on Saturday, the final total was expected to be closer to 40,000.

David Pool, the tournament's managing director and one of the men who put up the money to attract Woods, admitted attendances had been disappointing and that sales of corporate hospitality boxes had failed to live up to expectations.

The organisers' financial problems were compounded by their decision not to take out insurance against inclement weather following hefty premium hikes across the industry in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Pool said he would like to bring Woods back to New Zealand next year but admitted that conditions post- September 11 would force a rethink for everyone involved in the business side of sport.

"In the current economic climate, especially in this country, I think it's going to be hard to attract even the levels of sponsorship we got to," he said. Reduced support from sponsors would inevitably put a squeeze on appearance fees, he added.

Woods has consistently defended his appearance money, saying it is dictated by market forces. "I think it's basically a business decision based upon the tournament," he said last week.

Parry won the event by a stroke with a birdie on the last after a slip-up by hometown hope Michael Campbell, who had a double-bogey on the penultimate hole and lost the lead.

A birdie by Parry, 119th on the US PGA Tour, on the 18th was enough to see off Campbell, for a total of 273, 11 under par. Woods finished on 279 after a last-round 69, two under par.

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