When it comes to respect and President Trump, Jack Nicklaus sides with Tiger Woods.
Woods earlier this week stressed that he has respect for the office occupied by Trump, whom he knows and with whom he has played golf, and sidestepped the question of whether he agrees with Trump’s policies. “Well, he’s the president of the United States. You have to respect the office,” he said Sunday. “No matter who is in the office, you may like, dislike [a] personality or the politics, but we all must respect the office.”
Both Woods and Nicklaus have a relationship with Trump that predates the presidency. Nicklaus endorsed Trump for president and said Wednesday that “I couldn’t have agreed with Tiger more,” when asked about Woods’s remark during an interview with the Golf Channel. “Whether it’s Barack Obama or Donald Trump in the office of the president, you respect the office.”
Nicklaus, 78, called Woods’s comments “very appropriate” and added: “The office of the president is the head of the greatest country in the world.”
After his final round in the Northern Trust tournament, Woods was asked about his relationship with Trump. “Well, I’ve known Donald for a number of years,” he said. “We’ve played golf together. We’ve had dinner together. I’ve known him pre-presidency, and obviously during his presidency.”
Asked to expand on his comments and to talk about race relations, he declined. “I just finished 72 holes and am really hungry.”
Trump initially blasted the “fake news media” after Woods was asked about him and he went on to tweet about how Woods had avoided the topic. “Tiger wouldn’t play the game — he is very smart,” the president tweeted on Monday. “More importantly, he is playing great golf again!”
Woods avoids politics, but Nicklaus endorsed Trump, with whom he has played golf and for whom he has designed courses, in the spring of 2016, saying, “I like what Donald has done. I like that he’s turning America upside down. He’s awakening the country. We need a lot of that.”
Nicklaus said his business experiences with Trump, who attended the ceremony when Nicklaus was honored with a Congressional Gold Medal in 2016, had been positive and that he “didn’t want to get political about this.” Reluctantly, he said at the time that he knew how he would vote in the presidential election even though he added that Trump probably isn’t “as smooth or as politically correct as he should be. … I like the guy. He’s a good man.”
Playing golf with presidents is nothing unusual for Woods, who has hit the links along with George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as well as joining Trump (along with Dustin Johnson and Brad Faxon) at Mar-a-Lago last fall. Reporters have long tried and failed to pin down Woods about his politics, but he did offer his insights after Obama was elected and spoke at his 2009 inaugural celebration.
“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 [a Vietnam veteran and career military man] 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.”
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