US vice-president Joe Biden joked yesterday that his career was in better shape than his golfing as he kept his promise to play a round in Ireland.
Barack Obama's right-hand man battled blustery conditions around Castlebar Golf Club in Co Mayo - the Augusta of Connaught and Taoiseach Enda Kenny's home course.
With a packed clubhouse looking on, the two men diplomatically halved the match on the 18th. Two holes earlier, on the par three 16th, Mr Biden watched nervously as his tee shot narrowly missed a water hazard before hinting that the Taoiseach had the upper hand. Asked how his golf game was going, the vice-president replied: "It's going. Fortunately, politics is going better."
The round was organised as part of Mr Biden's six-day trip to Ireland - a private and personal visit designed for him to trace his ancestral roots before his term in office ends later this year.
It is understood that the long-standing invite to play golf with the Taoiseach in Ireland helped instigate the long and varied visit from the US vice-president.
Ranked several years ago by Golf Digest at 29 in its list of Washington's top 150 golfers, Mr Biden plays with a handicap of 6.3 - up there with John F Kennedy as among the best the White House has seen.
Buoyed by the challenge of a parkland course rather than the wilds of Irish links, Mr Biden was part of a four-ball with his brother Jimmy, Mr Kenny and Castlebar club captain Frank Murray.
Tom Prendergast, member of the Castlebar club and owner of the Village Inn in nearby Ballyvary, dismissed any sense of transatlantic rivalry on the fairways.
"It was a wonderful spectacle and Castlebar put on a great show," he said.
A mountain ash tree was planted on the course to mark the event of a US vice-president playing a round of golf at the club.