Exclusive: Brad Faxon's takeaways from a round with Tiger Woods, Donald Trump

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Exclusive: Brad Faxon's takeaways from a round with Tiger Woods, Donald Trump

PGA Tour

Exclusive: Brad Faxon's takeaways from a round with Tiger Woods, Donald Trump

I got a call Sunday from my good friend David Trout, the Director of Golf at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, where I’m a member. He said President Trump was going to be playing with Tiger Woods and asked if I would play in the group. I said, ‘absolutely.’ David was initially going to be the fourth. A couple of days later they said it looked like Dustin Johnson was going to join us.

The gravity of the situation really hit me on Thanksgiving night – I was going to be playing a round with the President of the United States, the current World No. 1 and Tiger Woods. It really made me kind of nervous and excited to play with that kind of spotlight. I’d played with Trump a few times previously, before he was in office. I hadn’t played with Tiger since 2005 and never played with Dustin, so there’s a lot of firsts going on.  

That morning, Trump tweeted that he was going to be playing with Johnson and Woods. I kind of busted his chops and said, ‘Hey, where’s the love? I thought you were going to tweet my name too!’ He laughed, and I told him I was trying to get up to 70,000 followers on Twitter.  Trump immediately replied, ‘I have 158 million.’ He’s a fun guy to joke around with. You would think you’d have to tip-toe around a bit with the President, but he immediately puts you at ease. 

We played a casual best ball match with a small wager – President Trump and I played Dustin and Tiger. They played from the back tees at 7,600 yards and we played up to the blue tees at about 6,500 yards.  The President was gracious and entertaining. He told some stories, things he loves about the job and things he doesn’t love. I think he was excited to be in that group and we had a lot of fun.

I’d seen that Tiger had played with Rickie Fowler and Rickie made some comments about Tiger hitting the ball well and looking good. I would echo the same thing.

Tiger looked great to me. He was happy and, more than anything, he’s finally pain-free. The issues he had with the back the last couple of comebacks seem to be gone. He looked effortless, he looked free, he had some power.  

I was impressed with how far he hit the ball. Probably on the 10 holes that they were both hitting driver, Tiger hit it past Dustin half the time and Dustin hit it past Tiger half the time. He looked great. I think more than anything, he looked at ease. He was not concerned about swinging hard and going at it with driver. The ball flight, the sound off the club, all of it was right there. 

I also need to mention how impressive Johnson was, and how much fun it was to watch the current World No. 1 up close. He definitely lived up to the billing.  

Tiger looked like he had all the touch shots down. On the very first hole he hit a pitch shot over a bunker that looked great. Hit some tough little pitch shots, tough chip shots and hit some close. Some to gimme’ distance.   

I’m just so happy that he’s happy and can swing a golf club pain-free. We know there’s so much more to the game than hitting the ball, but he’s got a chance. He can practice again, work without being hurt. 

Inside he’s probably nervous to do this again, but he brings so much energy to this game. He’s such a huge figurehead for us and a real difference maker. I hope for the best for him. He’s been through so much adversity. I’m excited and I’m sure he’s excited.  

So, I witnessed first-hand what Fowler saw – A pain-free Tiger that looked like he was able to hit the golf ball and will be able to be in the mix again. I don’t want to make it sound like I’m saying he’s going to win next week. It’s obviously different playing a fun, casual round like this as opposed to a tournament. But he’s in a great place mentally and physically.  

By the way, my 9-foot birdie putt on 18 sat on the lip to end the match all square. Kind of politically correct, isn’t it?

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