Woods was pressed on his longtime friendship with the president, saying, "you have to respect the office"
Over the weekend, Tiger Woods briefly opened up about his longtime friendship with President Donald Trump, though he made sure to avoid controversial issues that have so far defined Trump’s presidency.
After Woods wrapped up the final round of the Northern Trust on Sunday, the golfing legend was asked to comment on his professional and personal relationship with the president, according to ASAP Sports.
“Well, I’ve known Donald for a number of years,” Woods, 42, said. “We’ve played golf together. We’ve had dinner together. I’ve known him pre-presidency and obviously during his presidency.”
Trump and Woods played golf together just weeks after the 2016 election, and the two once again shared a game together during Thanksgiving last year.
Trump has never been shy about hiding his love for the sport and has spent some 150 days of his more than 580 days as president at a golf club. He also owns 17 golf courses in the United States and overseas.
Woods has a villa named after him at Trump’s Miami resort, according to ESPN.
From the start of Trump’s presidential campaign, his views on immigration and race relations have been a near constant source of controversy. So when he was asked about what people of color and immigrants may think of his friendship with Trump, Woods simply said they should “respect” the president.
“He’s the President of the United States,” Woods replied. “You have to respect the office. No matter who is in the office, you may like, dislike personality or the politics, but we all must respect the office.”
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When the reporter then asked if Woods would like to expand on the state of race relations in the country, he deflected and soon welcomed questions that turned away from politics.
“No. I just finished 72 holes and am really hungry,” he said, before taking questions about the upcoming Ryder Cup.
On Monday morning, Trump took to Twitter to comment on the exchange Woods had with reporters after his showing at the tournament, and called the golfer “very smart” for not saying anything “he didn’t want to say.”
“The Fake News Media worked hard to get Tiger Woods to say something that he didn’t want to say,” Trump wrote in an early morning tweet. “Tiger wouldn’t play the game – he is very smart. More importantly, he is playing great golf again!”
Woods — who has struggled on the golf course since a sex scandal came to light in 2009 — put on an impressive performance at the PGA Championship in St. Louis earlier this month that got many on social media reminiscing about his dominance so many years ago. Though he hasn’t quite reclaimed the magic he once had, Woods remains an unquestionable fan favorite when he is on the course (aside from a hater or two).
Throughout his career, Woods has found time to hit the course with sitting presidents. He has previously played with George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
Unlike last year, Woods won’t be playing with Trump on Thanksgiving, as he’ll instead be going head-to-head with Phil Mickelson in for a pay-per-view match up with $9 million on the line.