Tiger Woods believes the work that Black Lives Matter has been doing since protests began in May will force the United States to achieve positive growth and one day arrive at a place of better race relations.
The golf legend is participating in the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, this week and spoke about Black Lives Matter at a news conference on Tuesday, July 14.
“I think change is fantastic,” said Woods,” according to CNN. “As long as we make changes without hurting the innocent and unfortunately that has happened. Hopefully, it doesn’t happen in the future but a movement and change is fantastic. That’s how society develops. That’s how we grow. That’s how we move forward. That’s how we have fairness.”
He added, “Unfortunately, we’ve lost innocent lives along the way, and hopefully we don’t lose any more in the future as we move to a much better place socially.”
His comments come at a time when social justice issues have taken center stage following protests nationwide and in other countries after the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died on May 25 while being arrested by former white Minneapolis police officers.
Woods — who’s late father Earl Woods was Black and mother Kultida Woods is of Thai, Chinese and Dutch descent — addressed Floyd’s death on Twitter on June 1, with some of his words mirroring what he said at the Ohio news conference.
“My heart goes out to George Floyd, his loved ones and all of us who are hurting right now,” wrote Woods. “I remember the LA riots and learned that education is the best path forward … I hope that through constructive, honest conversations we can build a safer, unified society.”
In that same message, Woods, a friend of Donald Trump’s, also said that he respects law enforcement and they “train so diligently to understand how, when and where to use force.” Some disagreed with that part of his message and criticized him.
In day one of the Memorial Tournament, Thursday, July 16, Woods carded one-under 71, finishing five shots behind Tony Finau. He teed off again on the morning of Friday, July 17. If he secures his 83rd PGA Tour win, he’ll eclipse Sam Snead and his record mark set in 1965.
The Ohio tournament makes for the first time that Woods has played competitively since Floyd’s death and COVID-19 began to spread in the United States.
The PGA Tour began suspending tournaments in March after the spread, including The Players Championship, which was halted after the first round and The PGA Championship.
The first PGA tournament held since the pandemic was the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, taking place from June 11 to 14. Spectators weren’t allowed to attend for safety reasons, and that also is the case at the Memorial Tournament.
Woods talked about how he feels playing in the tournament during the coronavirus pandemic, adding that he’s ready to go.
“I’m used to having so many people around me or even touch me, going from green to tee,” he said at the news conference. “That’s something that I looked at and said, ‘Well, I’m really not quite comfortable with that, that whole idea. Let’s see how it plays out first and let’s see how the tour has played out, how they’ve started.’ And I feel that I’m comfortable enough to come back out here and play again, and I’m excited to do it.”