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Melbourne 2001 already worried about absentees

Melbourne's round of the world championship in January 2001is in danger of being snubbed by some of the game's best players.

The world's top 64 players are due to play in the Andersen Consulting World Match-Play championship at the Metropolitan Club from January3-7.

But the question being asked last week in Spain was how many would board a20-hour flight for an event with 32 of them knocked out in the first round?

David Duval, currently world No.2, and Colin Montgomerie, No.3, already look set to bypass the event.

Montgomerie, who wrapped up a record-breaking seventh straight European Order of Merit title at Valderrama, and is headed to Sydney this month for the Australian Open, is demanding officials switch the Melbourne date.

"We talked about Melbourne 2001 and January 3 and that's unbelievable and that's got to change," Montgomerie said.

"It's just ridiculous for everybody to travel so far, so early in the New Year."

Duval doesn't sleep well and and he cannot sleep at all after a long flight.

"He's not making it up because he just doesn't want to get on a airplane. If he'd been asking for four or five releases throughout the year and flying around taking appearance money, you would have an issue,"said US PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem.

Australasian Tour chief Arthur Sanderson, who was in Spain, said he was aware of the players' concerns but Melbourne's January 3, 2001 date is final.

"I have heard what some players have had to say, and also that Australia is a long way from Europe and the States but that date has been set for some time, and there's no suggestion at this point that we change it," Sanderson said.