Tiger Woods impressed with how far Trump can hit at 70; will play four events in five weeks in 2017
Woods has played with Trump, and US Presidents Barack Obama, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton
Tiger Woods said Thursday he was impressed with how far US President-elect Donald Trump can hit a golf ball at age 70 in his first public comments about the December 23 round.
The two played at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach about three weeks after Woods, a 14-time major champion and former world number one, made his comeback from a 16-month layoff following back surgery.
“What most impressed me was how far he hits the ball at 70 years old,” Woods said in a posting on his website blog. “He takes a pretty good lash.”
Woods didn’t go into details about conversations with Trump, purportedly a 2.8 handicapper, over the South Florida layout.
“Our discussion topics were wide-ranging; it was fun,” Woods said. “We both enjoyed the bantering, bickering and needling. I also shared my vision for golf and what I’m trying to do.”
Woods made it sound like he didn’t take any money off Trump, who is set to be inaugurated as the 45th US President on January 20.
“We didn’t have a match and played for fun,” Woods said. “I was testing drivers and fairway woods and changed some settings. I think he enjoyed seeing the difference in shots when you experiment.”
Woods has some knowledge about US Presidents and their golf games. The 79-time PGA Tour winner played alongside current US President Barack Obama in February 2013 and has also played alongside two other former US leaders.
“I’ve now had the privilege of playing golf with Mr. Trump, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and I appreciate the opportunity,” Woods said.
Woods also recounted how Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan was co-opted by the US Ryder Cup team to give him a personal boost during his layoff when he served as assistant captain last September, helping the team beat Europe at Hazeltine to reclaim the trophy.
Woods noted every player was wearing a jacket with a red T-shirt underneath.
“They all stood, unzipped the front, and the T-shirt read, ‘MAKE TIGER GREAT AGAIN,’” Woods said.
As for 2017, Woods added the Dubai Desert Classic to his growing list of 2017 tournaments on Thursday, giving him four events in five weeks in a golf fitness test well ahead of April’s Masters.
Woods, a 14-time major champion, last month returned from a 16-month layoff following back surgery. The former world number one confirmed in a blog posting on his website that he would play February 2-5 in the United Arab Emirates at an event he won in 2006 and 2008.
The move came a day after announcing he would play the week before at the PGA event at Torrey Pines, which he has won seven times. He has also scheduled starts February 16-19 at Riviera and the following week at the Honda Classic near his South Florida home.
“I am working hard to sharpen my game for 2017 and my goal is simple: to win,” Woods said. “Winning takes care of itself.”
Woods, ranked 321st, probably would not qualify for the World Golf Championships event the following week in Mexico, an event held at Doral in past years.
That would leave his last likely tuneup for the year’s first major, the Masters on April 6-9 at Augusta National, as the Arnold Palmer Invitational three weeks ahead of the battle for the green jacket. Woods has won eight times at the Bay Hill event.
Woods has not won a major since the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines and has not won any event since the WGC Bridgestone Invitational in August 2013.