Politics: Bill and Tony make a swinging couple

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TONY BLAIR hit it off with Bill Clinton yesterday when the US President gave the Prime Minister his first lesson at golf, writes Colin Brown.

The Clintons and the Blairs had spent the night at Chequers and after breakfast the President could not resist a round of golf on a nearby course.

After their impromptu round of four holes, the President was full of praise for the Prime Minister's golfing skills.

"I told him how to hold the club, how to stand, how to swing and it was embarrassing how good he was.

"The guy who was going around with us was a four handicap ... and he couldn't believe the Prime Minister was so good and he's never hit a ball before - amazing!" said the President.

"All I had to do was hit it off the tee. He three-putted them - all four of them - and he only missed two shots. The rest of them he hit good.

"Either he is an unbelievable athlete or I have a career as a golf instructor! One of the two things must be true."

But a blushing Mr Blair put it all down to beginner's luck and the talents of his teacher.

At least Mr Blair will be able to claim one-upmanship against his Chief Press Secretary, Alastair Campbell, who reportedly tried his hand at golf last autumn at a course in Scotland during the Commonwealth Heads of Government conference. One witness later described Mr Campbell's swing as being "like a caveman trying to kill his lunch".