Tiger, others recall President Bush's impact on golf
December 01, 2018
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
In Memoriam: George H. W. Bush
NASSAU, Bahamas – George H.W. Bush not only loved golf, but he liked to play fast. Tiger Woods got a taste of that one time as an amateur when he had the opportunity to play with the former President during a practice round in Houston.
“It was one of those very quick ones,” Woods recalled Saturday, a day after the 41st President died at the age of 94. “18 holes in probably under 2-1/2 hours.”
Asked how fast Bush played, Woods replied: “It was basically club, ball, one look, gone.”
Woods was among the many players who had the late President on their minds during the third round of the Hero World Challenge. Several players scrawled the number “41” on their caps in memory of the President, who is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and was the honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup in 1996.
Players wrote "41" on their hats today.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) December 1, 2018
In honor of 41st United States President George H.W. Bush. 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/fyH92iTBsh
“I met him on numerous occasions,” Woods said. “He was fantastic to be around. He was just one of the smartest people I’ve ever been around, and so down to earth.”
Justin Thomas was 11 years old when he met the former President at the 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills in Michigan. Thomas was a spectator, rooting for the American team that included his fellow Kentuckian, Kenny Perry.
“It was on the first tee,” Thomas recalled. “He was standing there – I can just picture it, although I don’t know Oakland Hills well enough to know exactly where it was. He was inside the ropes but there was a little gated area.
“I was with maybe Kenny Perry, someone that I knew knew him, and he took us up and introduced him and just said ‘Hi.’ I remember him being very nice but again, I was just 11 years old, so I didn’t really understand the impact or how cool it was. But yeah, looking back, it was a pretty cool moment.”
Keegan Bradley also met President Bush a couple of times, at the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah and the 2013 Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village. The meetings were brief, but Bradley is well aware of the impact the 41st President had on golf.
“Probably more than any other president because of what he did in the golf world, the Presidents Cup,” Bradley said. “I read that his dad and grandfather were both presidents of the USGA. Pretty incredible. They did a lot for the game.”
Current Houston resident Patrick Reed also has met both of the Bush presidents, including the 41st President at a golf tournament.
“Shocking, right?” Reed said. “I was playing and all of a sudden I kind of turned around right when I finished and he was there. I walked over and said hello, took my hat off, kind of talked to him for a little bit, talked a little about Houston and how he’s doing.”
Asked if he would describe Bush as an avid fan, Reed replied: “Oh, he’s more than just an avid fan, he’s beyond that. He absolutely loved the game. You know, to have the support from presidents and have them come as much as they do and how often they’re out there, it means a lot. To lose a guy and to lose a person like President Bush, it’s said because of how much he’s touched all of us.”
Bryson DeChambeau never met the 41st President, but he does run into No. 43, George W. Bush, from time to time in Dallas, either at Brookhollow or Dallas National. “He always says, ‘DeChambeau, what’s up?’ “ DeChambeau said with a smile. “He’s a great guy and I wish I could’ve known his father a little bit.”
Whether they met him or not, the TOUR pros appreciated what the Bush family did for the game.
“The Bush family has been incredibly supportive of competitive golf, from the Walker Cup to any major event,” DeChambeau said. “They’re always supporting it, always watching. That means a lot for the game of golf, and we need to pay our tributes to the Bush family and what they’ve done for the game.”
Said Woods, who will be the U.S. Captain at next year’s Presidents Cup: “Getting a chance to be around him at Presidents Cup and him being involved in since its inception in ’94 … he was such a class act. Anyone who’s ever been around him knows how much he loved his golf and how much he supported it …
“We’re going to miss him.”