Bearing gifts, Republican golfers meet with Obama

Eighteen years after the U.S. golfers on the 1993 Ryder Cup team initially balked at accepting an invitation from the White House, three PGA tour pros met with President Obama last week.

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Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III and Bubba Watson, in town for the U.S. Open in Bethesda, Md., greeted Obama with personalized gifts, including a Callaway wedge with a “Prez 44” inscription. It’s unclear if Obama used any of the clubs during his outing with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Saturday.

Mickelson contributed to J.D. Hayworth’s (R-Ariz.) House campaign in 1994, and Love has made political donations to former President George W. Bush and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), according to opensecrets.org. Watson has no record of giving to either party.

Love was on the 1993 Ryder Cup team that expressed major reservations about meeting with then-President Clinton, also an avid golfer.

In his book, A Good Walk Spoiled, author John Feinstein explained the hostility toward Clinton: “The politics of the team were probably best summed up by [1993] U.S. Open Champion Lee Janzen, who said, ‘Where I grew up you were better off telling people you were a garbage man than a Democrat.’ ”

Times have changed, though. Love said last week he urged Obama to attend next year’s Ryder Cup, which will be held near the president’s hometown of Chicago.


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