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Thomson: Woods' Aussie starts didn't help ailing tour

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Tiger Woods may have attracted media attention and huge crowds when he played in Australia in 2009-2011, but five-time major winner and Aussie golf legend Peter Thomson told Reuters on Sunday that any long-term impact has been negligible.

Woods won the Australian Masters in 2009 and returned the following year to defend his title. According to one local report, Victoria’s state government paid $1.55 million – or, in other words, half of his appearance fee – to bring Woods to Oz. In 2011, Woods played the Australian Open as a tune-up for the Presidents Cup.

“I think Tiger Woods’ impact was minimal barring the few days he was here,” Thomson, 83, said, according to the report. “It cost heavily and it changed nothing, fundamentally. The tour still struggles to attract top players because we can’t afford the appearance fees.”

One of this year’s headliners, Adam Scott, won the $1.25 million Australian Masters on Sunday, topping Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter at Kingston Heath. Next month’s Australian Open has been unable to attract many of today’s big stars – save for Scott – but did receive commitments from former world No. 1 Greg Norman and eight-time major winner Tom Watson, as well as Darren Clarke, who seems likely to be named the 2014 European Ryder Cup captain.

“From an international perspective, on an annual basis, we’re not going to get eight to 10 world top 20-ranked players down here,” Australian PGA CEO Brian Thorburn told Reuters. “The competitive forces and opportunities in Asia and elsewhere and the long distances mean it’s just impractical.

“But will we get two to three top-ranked guys down here? Yes, we will. …. Will we get a Rory McIlroy, a Tiger Woods or a Phil Mickelson down here in the next couple of years? Yes, I believe we will.”