It's rare for Tiger Woods not to be the most powerful person in the room and to be kept waiting for the star of the show. But such were the circumstances on Tuesday just a few hours after his first official practice round since early March, as Tiger traveled to downtown Washington, D.C., to hang out with President Barack Obama.
We're used to seeing the most recent NBA, MLB, NFL and college sports champions meet the president and present him with a jersey, but Tuesday night at the White House was one of those rare times that most of the best golfers in the world attended a similar ceremony with the commander-in-chief.
All 12 members and three captains from the USA Presidents Cup team, and a majority of the International side from last fall at Muirfield Village in Columbus, convened at the White House for a quick congratulations from the president. The attendees had to wait a bit, the original schedule delayed while the president most likely dealt with what had to be more pressing matters.
But once all this wealth and power was presented on the same dais, Obama decided to take some shots at the international side, which has been rather hopeless in this team match play competition. "Now, last year was the second time I'd been honorary chairman of the President's Cup," Obama said. "The United States won both times. I'm just saying." #justsayin.
A few of the international group, which included Ernie Els, Angel Cabrera, Jason Day and Nick Price, laughed but most stood deadpan and looked mildly uncomfortable as we recounted how they didn't win and haven't in a long time. The President continued, "As much as I'd like to take all the credit, the truth is that the U.S. has now beaten the international team in five straight tournaments. Any comment on that? OK, I didn't think so." It's not often the president gets to greet some recent sports champions but also host the losing side, so he took his shots before giving the Internationals credit for "keeping things interesting" until the final day last October and assuring them he didn't just invite the group to "rub it in."
It was impressive to see such a large group of golf's best attend one event that was not an actual golf tournament. But a night at the White House does appeal to even the most powerful globetrotting stars. Phil Mickelson, who's not even playing this week up the road at Congressional Country Club, flew in with his family (as did Matt Kuchar and Steve Stricker). Mickelson was specifically cited for helping the president with a part of his game, but for us, it was just a good excuse for Vice President Joe Biden to make his gregarious grinning appearance.
THE PRESIDENT: And I want to thank Phil Mickelson for giving me an excellent tip on my sand game, because I'm pretty sure I can shave at least two or three strokes if I can just get out of the darn sand.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Absolutely. I'm confident that's true, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: You sure?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm positive.
And sadly, that was the entirety of Biden's contributions to the ceremony. Thanks for coming, Mr. VP.
Those friendly swipes at the international team from Obama aside, most of the evening was dedicated to casually self-touring the East Wing.
Sharing a joke. 2 giants of the game. pic.twitter.com/EzKmiD96ML— Tony Johnstone (@TonyJohnstone56) June 25, 2014
Golf millionaires -- they're just like us taking the most touristy photos in all corners of the White House!
And as is always the case with the team competitions, the significant others were on hand to meet the president too.
Tiger, who was scheduled to play a pro-am at dawn out at Congressional, was quickly off to rest his back in preparation for his first competitive golf tournament since Doral and his late March surgery. It's a story that will dominate the week in golf and the Quicken Loans National, but for a few hours Tuesday night, his health status was secondary.