Woods proud to be 'Cablinasian'

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Tiger Woods, the new darling of the US media following his record victory in the US Masters 10 days ago, is using his new-found celebrity to dent - ever so gently - his overnight elevation to black sporting icon.

Asked by the almost equally popular black television interviewer, Oprah Winfrey, whether it bothered him to be called "African-American" - the current politically correct term for black people in America - Woods replied: "It does... I'm just who I am, whoever you see in front of you."

He said that as a child, he coined a term, "Cablinasian" to describe his background, a blend of Caucasian, black, Indian and Asian. His father is black and his mother Thai, but Woods is actually one quarter black, one quarter Thai, one quarter Chinese, one-eighth white and one-eighth Native American Indian. He has taken his mother's religion, Buddhism.

That he was immediately hailed as the first "black" Masters champion reflects the US craving to find black success stories. But it has also prompted comment: why, asked one letter-writer to a major newspaper, was Woods not hailed as the first "Asian" Masters victor?

And in an incident that showed what black golfers might be up against on the professional circuit, one of America's best- known golf personalities, Fuzzy Zoeller, was forced to apologise on national television for off- hand remarks he had made about Woods to a reporter from the news channel CNN, which were not broadcast at the time.

Zoeller had called Woods "that little boy" and said jokingly that he hoped he would not order fried chicken for the champions' dinner next year. Choosing the menu is the prerogative of the reigning champion and fried chicken is considered the staple food of poor black Southerners.

Clearly embarrassed, Zoeller apologised; he said that everyone on the circuit knew him as a joker and his remarks were not intended to be "racially derogatory".

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