Tiger Woods confirms golf date with President Obama

USA TODAY Sports

Calling it a tuneup for this week’s Match Play Championship, Tiger Woods confirms he played 18 holes of golf with President Obama on Sunday in an outing that was off limits to White House reporters.

If Tiger Woods and President Obama play golf in Florida and there is no official White House press corps account of the venture, did the outing really occur?

It did indeed, according to Woods’ website, which announced on Monday that the world’s second-ranked golfer used Sunday’s 18-hole round with POTUS to shake off the rust of a three-and-a-half-week layoff in time for the PGA Tour’s upcoming stop in Arizona.

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(Photo: Getty Images / TigerWoods.com)

"Tiger Woods tuned up for this week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship by playing 18 holes with a vacationing President Barack Obama on Sunday at The Floridian Golf Club in Palm City, Fla.," according toTigerWoods.com. "The duo was joined by Jim Crane, owner of the resort and the Houston Astros, and Ron Kirk, a U.S. Trade Representative."

While that two-sentence confirmation of the happening may satisfy the casual reader, it likely did nothing to assuage the "extreme frustration" that White House reporters expressed about being shut out of any coverage of the historic occasion. Journalists who cover Obama on a regular basis were denied all access -- including a photo op -- to the president’s first-ever golf date with Woods, though golf writer Tim Rosaforte was somehow able to live-tweet about the exclusive event.

Rosaforte’s ability to report from the grounds of a venue from which political reporters were barred did not sit well with said media members.

"Speaking on behalf of the White House Correspondents Association, I can say a broad cross section of our members from print, radio, online and TV have today expressed extreme frustration to me about having absolutely no access to the President of the United States this entire weekend," Fox News correspondent Ed Henry, the organization's president, said in a statement. "There is a very simple but important principle we will continue to fight for today and in the days ahead: transparency."

In exchange, White House officials issued a terse response.

"The press access granted by the White House today is entirely consistent with the press access offered for previous presidential golf outings," White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement. "It's also consistent with the press access promised to the White House Press Corps prior to arrival in Florida on Friday evening."

Obama normally plays golf without a phalanx of press persons trailing his foursome. He has, however, let photographers take pictures of him on the course, notably during his so-called "golf summit" with Speaker of the House John Boehner as well as during rounds with former president and renowned golf enthusiast Bill Clinton.

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(Former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama chat during a golf game on September 24, 2011, at Joint Base Andrews, Md. Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)

While White House reporters were seriously agitated about their inability to cover the proceedings, Woods was no doubt pleased with the secrecy shrouding the scene. The 14-time major champion, as many golf writers can attest, is not exactly famous for his "transparency" with members of the fourth estate.

How Rosaforte, who broke the story via Twitter, made it onto the grounds deemed off-limits to the White House scribes was unclear. The Golf World/Golf Digest writer and Golf Channel reporter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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