Celtic Manor Diary: Obama decides not to play by the usual Republican rules

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The Independent Online

America have no doubt arrived here at Celtic Manor with everything they usually bring to the Ryder Cup – rib-roast, pecan pie, diet coke, blonde wives. But there is one very important item missing and one that may just cause a stink back home.

President Obama has not followed the recent tradition of sending the team a good luck "go get 'em" message and apparently the multi-millionaires who may just vote Republican, are not best pleased with their Democrat leader.

"No we haven't heard anything from the White House yet," admitted the US captain, Corey Pavin, yesterday. "Maybe we will in the next few days. I know the President is a keen golfer and I'm sure he will be wanting us to play well."

Indeed, Obama is something of a fanatic on the fairways, somehow finding time in his packed schedule to play 40 times in his first year of office. There was even talk of him playing golf with Tiger Woods, until a certain sex scandal (of Woods) forced them to postpone. He did voice his support for the shamed icon, however.

So it seems unusual that Obama hasn't jumped on this easiest of PR opportunities. Every other President has, most vocally President George Bush who in 1991 opened up each NBC telecast with a rallying message. In fact, maybe that is why Obama's so far been silent. He might remember Bush's crass call to arms during the first Gulf War.

Monty changes his tweeting tune

So, unlike Corey Pavin, Colin Montgomerie has not stopped his players from using Twitter, as he claimed on Monday. That became obvious before he faced the media yesterday as tweets from Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell continued to fly across cyberspace.

Had he furiously backtracked? Had he been told by Poulter that he had a million-plus followers to keep in touch with and he couldn't bear to leave them without his pearls of wisdom for a full week? No.

Apparently he has just modified his stance a little. In Monday night's first team meeting he announced he wouldn't ban his men from the website. "He just told us he would like us to be respectful of the other players," said Poulter. So on they tweet and on Monty becomes more baffled by the interest in the tale. "I thought I was captain of a golf team, not a Tweeting organisation," he said.

Legendary hack sticks it to Tiger. Again

"Who is that guy?" So an angry Tiger Woods said to the European Tour press officer as he left the interview room yesterday. The world No 1 had just been asked by the British journalist the following question. "You don't win majors any more, you don't win normal tournaments any more, you are about to be deposed as world No 1 – where is the Ryder Cup on your agenda now you're just an ordinary golfer?"

Replied Tiger: "You're the same one who went after me at the Open. I hope you are having a good week."

So Tiger did know who "that guy" was, although what he probably doesn't remember is that at the 2004 Ryder Cup the same journalist drove the US captain "Hapless" Hal Sutton to distraction. The most memorable exchange came when the reporter asked Sutton why he had put his worst players at the top of the singles order when the Americans plainly needed early points on the board.

Said Sutton: "I haven't, I've put Woods and Mickelson up there." To which the journalist retorted: "Exactly, they're your worst players."

Sutton didn't find it funny but members of the European team did. They hastily drew up a huge card expressing their devotion to the mischievous hack. "We love you, Dick," it read.

Captain's bag full of intrigue

What's in Monty's bag? It's the question occupying everybody here as the Scot carries it everywhere he goes. The intrigue has not been satisfied by the captain's explanation that: "It's full of important notes and won't be leaving my side."

"Is the Ryder Cup in there?" he was asked. "You tabloid guys," he replied, seeing the funny side rather more easily than Tiger.

Rough diamonds

Argyle check ("diamond print" to the layman) and golf go together. That doesn't make it OK. When Michelle Obama wore an argyle cardigan by Japanese designer Junya Watanabe last year, it was proof she was cool and had a sense of irony regarding geeky sports clothes. When the European team donned argyle yesterday, it was proof of the opposite. They seemed to have left their sleeves behind, for one thing.

Harriet Walker

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