Tiger texts Fed, invites Obama to PGA
Bethesda -- Tiger Woods is not expecting to see US President Barack Obama in July while hosting the PGA National, but the world number one is staying in touch with tennis friend Roger Federer.
Woods also took time from directing the USD 6 million (CHF 6.5 million) event that begins on Thursday to respond to criticism that he is "terrible" as an agent for social change and reflect on former NBA star Michael Jordan’s influence.
The first black golfer to win a major title visited the first black US President in the White House in April and invited Obama to the tournament, although state affairs will likely keep him away.
"As far as seeing the President this week, I have no plans," Woods said. "I’ve put out an invite for him to come out here. He’s a little bit busy. There might be a couple of things on his plate."
Swiss tennis star Federer, who has 14 Grand Slam titles to match the 14 major golf crowns won by Woods, is trying to take the lead in their personal race with a title this week at Wimbledon, where he may pass Pete Sampras as the all-time leader in Slam titles.
"Am I in contact with Fed? Yeah. We probably text about every day," Woods said. "What he’s doing over there and what he has done throughout his entire career has been pretty phenomenal, just his consistency in the Slams. The biggest events, he’s always there. Every single Slam he plays in.
"And for him to win 14 and now all four events has been pretty cool to see and get to know him. He works so hard off the court to be prepared, to go the distance to win. It’s just frightening how hard this guy works."
Woods admits he "loves being the greedy host" and winning when he hosts but is supporting Federer as well, saying, "hopefully I can win, but more importantly, I hope he gets to 15."
Former American football star Jim Brown criticised Woods in late June in an interview with HBO, saying that Woods was "terrible" as "an individual for social change".
"He can get away with teaching kids to play golf and that’s his contribution," Brown said. "In the real world, man, I can’t teach no kids to play golf and that’s my contribution, if I got that kind of power."
Woods cited the work of his foundation that has helped 10 million children, replying, "I think I do a pretty good job as it is what we’re trying to do with the foundation."
"I want to do it right, not just do it, and that takes time. You just don’t jump into something. You want to have a plan and I think what we’ve done so far has been very good, very efficient and it’s helped a lot of kids, taught a lot of kids how to give back and learn how to lead, learn how to teach others, have confidence in themselves."
Woods also reflected on six-time NBA champion Jordan, who Woods calls "big brother", and said that watching him practice for hours influenced his own drive to perfect his game.
"It has been very special to get to know him, see how hard he worked off the court, away from the cameras, away from the game time," Woods said. "You can’t believe how hard this guy worked, the countless hours in the gym shooting.
"I’m like, ‘Mike, it’s one in the morning’.
“’I’m not ready yet.’ He kept shooting and shooting. I’d feed him the ball or watch him go over drill after drill. He just rehearsed it again and again until he had it.
"It has been a lot of fun to get to know him over the years as a player but also as a person. He has helped me a lot."
Jim Slater / AFP / Expatica