Golf: Woods rounds on racism

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The Independent Online
Tiger Woods is determined to take a leading role in tackling racial discrimination in American golf. The 20-year-old, whose father is black and whose mother is Thai, said he saw the hate mail he receives as a sign of success in his efforts to highlight the plight of non-whites trying to gain access to some private American courses.

"If you are a leader you take the initiative and do what's right, and I feel I am doing what's right," Woods said in Sydney as he prepared for the Australian Open - his first overseas tournament as a professional.

All is not well fitness-wise, with Woods still troubled by a back problem. "I am going to continue having these problems while I'm still growing," the three-time US amateur champion said.

Woods, who will tee off against Australia's world No 1, Greg Norman, at the Australian Open starting on Thursday, generates much of his awesome distance off the tee with a rapid shoulder turn, placing a strain on his lower back.

Woods has won two tournaments on the US PGA Tour since turning professional in August and earned a reported $60m ($37.5m) in endorsement deals.

He said: "I've been kicked off courses for just the colour of my skin. I've had hate mail, death threats, the whole nine yards. It [the hate mail] is positive because it shows people are now being influenced by how I play.

"It's part of life, it's part of being in a sport which is predominantly Caucasian," he said. "Society is changing into this new era and unfortunately it's going to take time."

Woods has appeared in an American television advert for a sportswear manufacturer claiming that a number of clubs still operated an unofficial colour bar. The advert has generated a heated response.

"I think something needs to be said in the game of golf," Woods said. "Unfortunately that is not usually how I like to portray or do things in my life but I think golf needed that kick."