PALM CITY, Fla. – President Barack Obama played golf Sunday with Tiger Woods, the White House said Sunday.
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 holiday weekend. The two had met before, but Sunday was the first time they played together.
The White House has prohibited media coverage of Obama’s weekend golf outing.
The foursome also included Jim Crane, a Houston businessman who owns the Floridian and Major League 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.
Golf Digest reported that Obama spent eight hours with Harmon, during which he played 27 holes and hit balls in Harmon’s studio, and then managed to co-ordinate Sunday’s round with Woods. The report said the original plan called for Obama and Woods 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, but Obama stayed 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 Sunday’s meeting on the fairway.
The two met in January 2009, during Obama’s inauguration in Washington. Four months later, in April, Woods visited the White House and Obama welcomed him into the Oval Office.
Woods’ personal life imploded later in 2009 after revelations that he had engaged in multiple extramarital affairs, leading to divorce. He followed with a public apology and announced he was taking an indefinite break from golf. Shortly after Woods announced he was coming out of seclusion, Obama said in an interview with Fox News Channel that Woods will still be a “terrific” golfer despite his personal issues.
After returning to the sport, Woods went two years without winning, but his game is back on track and he currently is ranked No. 2 in the world. Woods won the last tournament he played, three weeks ago in San Diego.
The president is in Florida while first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha are on an annual skiing vacation out West. He arrived late Friday and was due to return to Washington on Monday night.
AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson contributed to this report.
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