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Obama tees off with Tiger but lack of access irks press corps

updated 9:12 AM EST, Mon February 18, 2013
President Obama and Tiger Woods enjoyed a round of golf in Palm Beach, Florida on Sunday.
President Obama and Tiger Woods enjoyed a round of golf in Palm Beach, Florida on Sunday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • President Obama enjoys a round of golf with world No. 2 Tiger Woods in Florida on Sunday
  • White House press corps frustrated by lack of access at Floridian resort in Palm Beach
  • Obama reportedly worked on his swing with Woods' former coach Butch Harmon

(CNN) -- There were high-profile tournaments on both the PGA and European Tours this weekend, yet the most talked about round of golf was undoubtedly shared by Tiger Woods and President Obama.

But as the 14-time major winner and current world No. 2 ambled round the Floridian course in Palm Beach with the leader of the free world, resentment was starting to build among the press corps.

Naturally, such a high profile two-ball was of huge interest to journalists the world over but the White House refused to sanction so much as a snap of the pair in action.

Obama's love for golf is well documented and the press have been able to capture some of his previous rounds with former President Bill Clinton and Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

Read: The world's largest golf tee?

But on this occasion reporters weren't allowed access to the well defended Floridian complex, which drew criticism from the White House Correspondents Association.

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Tiger Woods, right, congratulates Rory McIlroy after Europe's remarkable victory over the U.S. on the final day of the 2012 Ryder Cup in September. The two are big rivals on the golf course, but a friendship has also blossomed this year. Tiger Woods, right, congratulates Rory McIlroy after Europe's remarkable victory over the U.S. on the final day of the 2012 Ryder Cup in September. The two are big rivals on the golf course, but a friendship has also blossomed this year.
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It's own president, Ed Henry, said: "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.

"There is a very simple but important principle we will continue to fight for today and in the days ahead: transparency."

Very few details emerged from Woods and Obama's round, but the fact that Golf Channel reporter Tim Rosaforte appeared to be tweeting from inside the complex only added to the WHCA's ire.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest responded by releasing a statement defending the secret nature of the meeting.

"The press access granted by the White House today is entirely consistent with the press access offered for previous presidential golf outings," it read.

"It's also consistent with the press access promised to the White House Press Corps prior to arrival in Florida on Friday evening."

On Saturday, Obama is reported to have spent time working on his swing with Woods' former coach Butch Harmon, who called it an "honor."

The 69-year-old tweeted: "What a great weekend. To spend it with the President and have my son Claude III by my side. It doesn't get any better than this."

Obama also played with U.S Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Jim Crane, a Democratic donor who owns the resort and the Houston Astros, according to reports.

Meanwhile, John Merrick won his first ever title on the PGA Tour after edging Charlie Beljan out in a playoff at the Northern Trust Open in Santa Monica, California.

The American, who attended UCLA, made par on the second extra hole, the 10th, while Beljan missed a five foot putt to prolong the playoff.

"To be able to play the tournament was a dream of mine," Merrick told the PGA Tour website. "But to win? I can't describe it. It's so much fun."

Elsewhere, the draw for the first World Golf Championships tournament of the year, the Accenture Match Play, has been made, pairing world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who lost to Hunter Mahan in the final last year, against Irishman Shane Lowry.

Woods will play Charles Howell III in his opening round match while defending champion Mahan comes up against Italian teenager Matteo Manassero.

Luke Donald, the 2011 champion, begins his charge against Marcel Siem of Germany. Former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, the No. 4 seed, will play Richie Ramsay of Scotland.

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