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`THAI-GER MANIA' : WOODS TREATED LIKE ROYALTY DURING VISIT TO MOTHER'S HOMELAND.



Byline: Associated Press Associated Press: see news agency.
Associated Press (AP)

Cooperative news agency, the oldest and largest in the U.S. and long the largest in the world.
 

A jet-lagged Tiger Woods Editing of this page by unregistered or newly registered users is currently disabled.  had barely unbuckled his seat belt after a 20-hour flight when a television crew broadcasting live on four of Thailand's five channels burst into the first-class cabin.

Right behind were politicians, bureaucrats and business executives falling over each other for a chance to shake hands to perform the customary act of civility by clasping and moving hands, as an expression of greeting, farewell, good will, agreement, etc.

See also: Shake
 with Woods.

The 21-year-old golfing sensation, whose mother is a native Thai, arrived in Bangkok this week to compete in the Asian Honda Classic The Honda Classic is a PGA Tour golf tournament that is played each March in Florida. It was founded in 1972 as the Jackie Gleason's Inverrary Classic. In 1981, American Motors (AMC) backed the tournament. Since 1982, Honda has sponsored it. , and landed right in the middle of what the Thai press calls ``Tiger Fever.''

In his short stay, Woods will receive a royal decoration, be feted by Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and be asked to help promote the Asian Games The Asian Games, also called the Asiad, is a multi-sport event held every four years among athletes from all over Asia. The games are regulated by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) under the supervision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). , a regional Olympic-style competition Bangkok will host in 1998.

``Thailand has treated us very well,'' Woods said Thursday night. ``I don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)

"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party.
 why, but I feel like I'm home. I hope I will be back soon.''

Members of Woods' entourage say that despite his public graciousness, the hype is wearing the golfer out. At Wednesday's pro-am practice round, he quit after 13 holes because of heat exhaustion heat exhaustion, condition caused by overexposure to sunlight or another heat source and resulting in dehydration and salt depletion, also known as heat prostration. The symptoms are severe headaches, weakness, dizziness, blurred vision, and sometimes unconsciousness. , jet lag jet lag

Period of adjustment of biological rhythm after moving from one time zone to another, experienced as fatigue and lowered efficiency. It reflects a delay in the synchronization of changes in the level of blood cortisol, the major steroid produced by the adrenal cortex
 and weariness.

But he recovered as the tournament started, and all traces of illness were gone by Friday. Woods seized a two-stroke overall lead, shooting a course-record 64 on the par-72, 7,016-yard Thai Country Club course. The crowd roared as he sank his final birdie on the 18th hole.

The Thai government makes no bones about whipping up ``Thai-ger mania,'' even though most Thais don't golf and had not heard of Woods until this week.

Thailand's ruling class - politicians, generals, businessmen - love golf. So do expatriates. Of the 4,000 people who turned up Friday at the Thai Country Club to watch Woods, perhaps a quarter were Japanese.

But most Thais are subsistence farmers whose only experience with golf is when their land is expropriated ex·pro·pri·ate  
tr.v. ex·pro·pri·at·ed, ex·pro·pri·at·ing, ex·pro·pri·ates
1. To deprive of possession: expropriated the property owners who lived in the path of the new highway.
 to build links. Public courses are few, as are the chances for most people to learn the game.

``Our government's reaction is too much,'' said Thaweep Thiensai, 18, whose views echoed those of many Thais interviewed. ``They want to give honors to someone who is basically a foreigner, while they do nothing to support our local athletes.''

Thaweep's favorite sport is takraw, a popular game where players kick a rattan rattan (rătăn`), name for a number of plants of the genera Calamus, Daemonorops, and Korthalsia climbing palms of tropical Asia, belonging to the family Palmae (palm family).  ball over a net.

Maj. Gen. Charouck Arirachakaran, secretary-general of Thailand's Olympic committee, told The Nation newspaper that Woods was no Somluck Kamsing Somluck Kamsing (sometimes Somrak Khamsing, born January 16, 1973) is a Thai boxer. At the 1996 Summer Olympics he won a gold medal in the men's Featherweight category beating Ramaz Paliani and Serafim Todorov among others, becoming the first Thai athlete to win a gold , a boxer who won Thailand's first gold medal last year in Atlanta.

``As far as I am concerned, he is only a half-Thai,'' Charouck said. ``He takes part in every tournament as an American national, and there is little positive publicity Thailand can derive out of it. Only his mother is Thai.''

Woods' parents met in 1967. Earl was a lieutenant-colonel in the Green Berets; Kultida was a secretary at the joint U.S.-Thai command in Bangkok.

Tiger Woods was born in 1975 and reared an American. His mother brought him up as a Buddhist - the golfer showed off a religious amulet amulet (ăm`yəlĭt), object or formula that credulity and superstition have endowed with the power of warding off harmful influences.  to reporters Thursday - and believes the religion gives him ``inner peace'' on the course.

Part of Woods' popularity in the United States comes from his role as ground-breaker for African-American youths - his father is African-American - in a sport dominated by whites. In this Southeast Asian country, Woods would have seen a different kind of discrimination.

Under Thai law, if a Thai woman marries a foreign man, she loses her right to buy property and their children assume the father's citizenship. Had the Woods stayed in Thailand, they would have had to remain unmarried for their son to get Thai citizenship without huge bureaucratic hassle.

A proposal to grant Tiger Woods honorary Thai citizenship in light of his athletic achievements has drawn criticism from the parents of other half-Thai children. Some complain of double standards.

Woods said at a news conference that he would be pleased to accept citizenship as ``a special honor from my family,'' but a government spokeswoman denied Friday that such an offer was being made.

For Woods, who received a $480,000 appearance fee, being in Thailand seems to be reward enough.

``This tournament is special, because it's in the land of my mother's birth,'' he said.

CAPTION(S):

2 Photos

Photo: (1) No move by Tiger Woods has gone unnoticed during his visit to Thailand this week.

(2) Thailand native Kultida Woods, reacting to Tiger finishing the 18th hole, has helped heighten interest among Thais in her famous son.

Associated Press
COPYRIGHT 1997 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 8, 1997
Words:752
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