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January 17 2013

3:30 PM

Clinton talks golf and healthy living

President Bill Clinton (l) and PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem meet with the media

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

LA QUINTA, Calif. -- First, the consummate politician worked the practice range as pros and amateurs alike prepared for the first round of the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation.

After everyone had teed off in the $5.6 million PGA TOUR event, former President Bill Clinton met with a much less contentious gathering of the media than he was used to in the White House and talked about his vision to improve the world's health as well as his love of the game. Here are some highlights (scroll down to watch the interview):

>>> Clinton called a tip he received from Tom Watson "practically the best political lesson I ever got from anybody ... He said, golf is the way politics is. If your grip is too far to the right, you're going to get in trouble on the left. But if your grip is too far to the left, you're going to get in big trouble on the right. The trick is for your grip to be just right. Worth remembering in these days."

>>> Clinton, who played with former Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush and Bob Hope in the 1995 event, said he would like to bring President Barack Obama with him to next year's Humana Challenge. "I came once as President for Bob Hope. And I think it would really mean a lot to him and I think that he would be able to, he and Michelle Obama, could look at some of this (wellness) stuff that's part of what they're trying to do."

>>> Clinton called Obama a "total golf nut" and talked about a recent round at Andrews Air Force Base before inaugural business intervened. "And he had the lowest score by far he had every shot at Andrews, he was five shots ahead of me after nine holes. But I'm older, I start slow and pick up. So I picked up four of those strokes in the first three holes of the back nine and after, so I'm only 1 down, and he leaves at 13 he says, got to go. I said, hey, you're talking to somebody that's had this job and made that excuse. But I said, as it happened, we were playing partners, so I wanted him to shoot well."

>>> Clinton also joked that he had no opinion on long putter because "I've never been able to figure out how to use one of those things." He recalled when Sam Snead putted between his legs. "And once I got over 40 and my vision started to warp, and my lens started to flatten out, I got it. I mean, if you let me putt that way now, I would make three times as many putts of 10 or 12 feet. ... It's stunning the difference it makes."

>>> On whether the amateurs and pros were intimidated by him: "They might have been last year, but when they saw how lousy I was on the golf course, I think they got over it in a hurry."

>>> On his thoughts about Tuesday's wellness conference. "I rarely have seen this much improvement (over the 2011 event), but I think what it reflects is the, besides the fact that we have all been working hard on this, what it really reflects is everyone knows this is a big deal.  They know we can't keep spending more of our income on health care. They know that the baby boomer retirement alone could make us do that. ... Maybe we just met at a moment in time when we all needed each other and we're going to wind up doing a lot of good because of it."

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