Woods defends $3m fee
What's the fuss? (Gallo Images)
Miami - Tiger Woods has downplayed the controversy over his reported appearance fee of $3 million for the Australian Masters in November when he will compete Down Under for the first time in a decade.
"I know there's some controversy behind it but I'm really looking forward to getting down there and playing and competing," the American world number one told reporters in Orlando on Wednesday.
"Most of the guys get appearance fees to play around the world. This is the only place that doesn't have appearance fees," added Woods, referring to the PGA Tour.
The game's leading player has not competed in Australia since the 1998 Presidents Cup but has committed to the Australian Masters at Kingston Heath in Melbourne from November 12-15.
"I've always wanted to get down there and play more in the Aussie sandbelt because that is my favourite area to play," Woods said on the eve of Thursday's opening round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. "I've always enjoyed it."
His appearance at the Australian Masters is certain to heighten interest in the event, but five-times British Open champion Peter Thomson has expressed concern about the impact on sponsorship for other tournaments.
"In my view it's going to do a lot of damage to our national Open, which comes two weeks after this one in Melbourne," Australian Thomson said last week.
"The Australian Open is our national championship, it is the most important event that we have. He won't be playing in that but that sucks up all the potential sponsorship."
Woods visited Australia in 1996, 1997 and 1998 without winning a tournament and also played the 2002 New Zealand Open.