February 19 2013
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
MARANA Ariz. -- For the record, Tiger Woods and President Barack Obama came out on top.
The two were partners in a match on Sunday with U.S. trade representative Ron Kirk and Jim Crane, who owns the Houston Astros, as well as the Floridian National Golf Club in Palm City, Fla., where the foursome teed it up.
Woods, who plays this week at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, enjoyed the opportunity to play with the Chief Executive.
"He's just a wonderful person to be around," said Woods, who previously played with President Bill Clinton. And in case you were wondering, "he's quick," the former world No. 1 said approvingly.
Woods said it's obvious President Obama, who played basketball at the Punahou School in Honolulu as a teenager, is a good athlete and there was more than one memorable shot by the lefthander on Sunday. Although Woods departed after 18 holes, the President played another nine.
On Saturday, Obama reportedly spent eight hours with noted instructor (and Woods' one-time coach) Butch Harmon, hitting balls in his studio and playing another 27 holes.
"He hit it well, and we didn't play under the easiest conditions," Woods said. "It was blowing harder than this and it was a little bit cooler than this. So we played under some tough conditions, and as I said, he hit the ball well.
"He's got amazing touch. He can certainly chip and putt. If he ever spent, after these four years, more time playing the game of golf, I'm sure he could get to where he's a pretty good stick."
While that match was played in relative anonymity on Sunday -- the president of the White House press corps released a statement on behalf of the organization expressing its frustration - the spotlight shifts to Woods this week.
He's a three-time champion of the Accenture Match Play Championship but hasn't won the event since 2008. Woods comes to the Arizona desert this week with momentum, though, after winning the Farmers Insurance Open three weeks ago and he's well-rested after spending a week with his kids, then easing back into golf mode.
Woods plays Charles Howell III, who is returning to thise global competition for the first time since 2008, in his opening match. The two are friendly and have history together -- Woods beat Howell 2 and 1 in the quarterfinals of the 1996 U.S. Amateur.
Woods says the keys to success in this format, which he calls a "sprint," are taking one match at a time, as well as getting out of the blocks quickly. "Anything can happen in 18 holes, and it's imperative to get off to a positive start," he explained. "It's impossible to come back in 18 holes."
Woods also likes the mano-y-mano nature of the event. And make no mistake, he's come here to add a 75th title to his resume.
"That's the only reason I enter events is to win," Woods said. "It's not to make the cut or finish top 10 or even second. It's to win the event. There's really no reason to enter if you don't have the mindset or belief that you can't win, and I feel like I can win every time I play."