Tiger Woods finished tied for 40th at last weekend’s Northern Trust Open in New Jersey, but at least one reporter hoped Woods would talk about another topic — his relationship with President Trump — after his final round Sunday afternoon.
“Well, I’ve known Donald for a number of years,” Woods said when asked about the president, according to a transcript of his remarks. “We’ve played golf together. We’ve had dinner together. I’ve known him pre-presidency, and obviously during his presidency.”
Woods played golf with Trump, then the president-elect, sometime around Christmas 2016, writing on his website that what “most impressed me was how far he hits the ball at 70 years old. He takes a pretty good lash.” Woods made sure to note that he also has played golf with former presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
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Woods and Trump also posed for a photo with Trump’s granddaughter, Kai.
Woods on Sunday was asked whether he had any thoughts on some people — “especially people of color, immigrants,” according to the questioner — being threatened by Trump and his policies, as well as about the golfer’s seemingly friendly relationship with the president.
“Well, he’s the president of the United States. You have to respect the office,” Woods said. “No matter who is in the office, you may like, dislike personality or the politics, but we all must respect the office.”
And with that, Woods was done talking about Trump, saying to a follow-up question about the state of race relations that he “just finished 72 holes and am really hungry.”
Trump himself weighed in on Monday morning, writing that “The Fake News Media worked hard to get Tiger Woods to say something that he didn’t want to say,” and that “Tiger wouldn’t play the game — he is very smart.”
Reporters have long tried to pin down Woods about his politics, a topic the 14-time major championship winner does not spend much time discussing. However, his comments Sunday about Trump were much more tepid compared with his thoughts on Obama’s 2008 victory.
“I think it’s absolutely incredible,” Woods told CNBC at the time. “He represents America. He’s multiracial. I was hoping it would happen in my lifetime. My father was hoping it would happen in his lifetime, but he didn’t get to see it. I’m lucky enough to have seen a person of color in the White House.”
Woods spoke at Obama’s first inaugural celebration in 2009.
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