Sports News

No special protection from Aussie hecklers for Tiger Woods

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Tiger Woods will have no special protection from heckling fans when he defends his title at the Australian Masters in Melbourne this week.

Tiger Woods of the U.S. reacts after missing a birdie on the ninth hole during the final round of the WGC-HSBC Champions golf tournament in Shanghai, November 7, 2010. REUTERS/Aly Song

Australian media reported that anybody who heckled the former world number one over his well publicized extra-marital affairs would be ejected from the Victoria Golf Club after one warning.

“There is absolutely no specific policy directed toward Tiger Woods,” tournament director Marcus Gale told Reuters by telephone from the course on Tuesday.

“We expect all spectators to be courteous as they have always been here, a fact that Tiger commented upon last year.

“He won’t be treated any differently from any other player in this regard. We have the same policy for the 120th ranked player as for the top ranked player in this field.”

It was just after winning the Australian Masters last year that the first stories about Woods’s personal life broke, quickly developing into a storm that wrecked his marriage, tarnished his clean-cut image and caused him to take a break from golf.

Gale said there were no hard and fast rules over how to deal with hecklers at the Australian Masters.

“It would be silly to adopt a one warning and you’re out policy and not look at every issue on a case-by-case basis,” he added.

Organizers were not in any case anticipating problems from the 70,000-100,000 fans expected to flock to the course for the event, Gale said.

Woods arrived in Australia on Tuesday for the $1.5 million tournament, which starts on Thursday, after finishing sixth at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai last weekend.

Editing by Patrick Johnston