Tiger, Obama Hit the Links
Palm City, Fla. (ap) — President Obama played golf yesterday with Tiger Woods, the White House said.
Once the sport’s dominant player before his career was sidetracked by scandal, Woods joined Obama at the Floridian, a secluded and exclusive yacht and golf club on Florida’s Treasure Coast where Obama is spending the long Presidents Day weekend. The two had met before, but yesterday was the first time they played together.
The White House, which has promised to be the most open and transparent in history, has prohibited any media coverage of Obama’s golf outing.
The foursome also included Jim Crane, a Houston businessman who owns the Floridian and baseball’s Houston Astros, and outgoing U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, a former mayor of Dallas, said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. Crane and Kirk also were part of Obama’s foursome on Saturday, the White House said.
Obama, an avid golfer, also received some instruction Saturday and played a few holes with Butch Harmon, Woods’ former swing coach.
Initial word that the First Duffer would play a round with the world’s No. 2 player didn’t come from the White House, but instead came from veteran golf journalist Tim Rosaforte, who announced it on Twitter. Rosaforte’s late-morning tweet said: “The president is arriving at the Floridian range. Awaiting is Tiger Woods and club owner Jim Crane. Historic day in golf. Their first round.”
White House confirmation of Woods’ participation came about two hours later, following multiple appeals from traveling White House reporters.
Golf Digest reported on its website that Obama spent eight hours Saturday with Harmon, playing 27 holes and hitting balls in Harmon’s studio, and then managed to coordinate yesterday’s round with Woods. The report said the original plan called for Obama and Woods, a Florida resident, to play at Woods’ home club — The Medalist Golf Club, a half-hour away in Hobe Sound. But they eventually opted for the Floridian.
Woods departed after the first 18 holes, with Obama staying on to play another nine, the report said.
“Just to see the interaction between the two on the range was pretty neat,” Harmon told Golf Digest. “The President said to Tiger: ‘The last tournament you played was fun to watch. It’s good to see you play well again.’ You could tell he meant it. It just wasn’t a throw it out compliment.”
It seems Obama and Woods — the first black men at the top of their respective fields — have spent the past few years inching toward yesterday’s meeting on the fairway.
They met in January 2009, during Obama’s inauguration in Washington.
Four months later, in April, Woods visited the White House and Obama received him in the Oval Office.