Former President Bush moved out of intensive care

Former President George H.W. Bush during the 2009 Presidents Cup.

Former President George H.W. Bush during the 2009 Presidents Cup.

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HOUSTON –- George H.W. Bush's condition continued to improve Saturday, prompting doctors to move the former president out of intensive care, a spokesman said.

"President Bush's condition has improved, so he has been moved today from the intensive care unit to a regular patient room at The Methodist Hospital to continue his recovery," family spokesman Jim McGrath said Saturday. "The Bushes thank everyone for their prayers and good wishes."

Bush, 88, a World Golf Hall of Fame member, was hospitalized Nov. 23 for treatment of a bronchitis-related cough. He was moved to intensive care at the Houston hospital on Dec. 23 after he developed a fever.

On Friday, McGrath said Bush had improved since arriving in the ICU. He said he was alert and in good spirits and was even doing some singing.

McGrath said Saturday morning that future updates on Bush's condition would be made as warranted.

Bush, the 41st president, was hospitalized the day after Thanksgiving when he was admitted for a lingering cough related to bronchitis. He is the country's oldest living former president.

Early in 2012, it was reported that Bush had been diagnosed with lower-body Parkinsonism, which causes instability from the waist down. Consequently, he mostly uses a wheelchair.

George Herbert Walker Bush was inducted into golf's shrine in 2011 in the Lifetime Achievement category. Bush's roots in the game run deep: His father and grandfather were former presidents of the U.S. Golf Association. George Herbert Walker, Bush's maternal grandfather, created the Walker Cup, a biennial match between the top amateurs in the U.S. and U.K. Bush's father, Prescott Bush, headed the USGA before being elected to the U.S. Senate and was a frequent golf companion of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower's.

The 41st president amassed a number of golf awards in addition to his Hall of Fame induction: PGA of America's 1997 Distinguished Service Award, the USGA's 2008 Bob Jones Award and the PGA Tour's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. In 1996, he served as honorary chairman of the inaugural Presidents Cup, a biennial match pitting U.S. and International professionals.

However, Bush's enduring contribution to the game might be his commitment to fast play.

"You put your track shoes on when you're playing with him," said Hale Irwin, a Hall of Fame member, in an interview with the hall.

Added Arnold Palmer, another hall member: "I am a great believer in moving pretty fast around a golf course. Well, President Bush made sure that happened."

Bush and his wife, Barbara, live in Houston during the winter and spend their summers at a home in Kennebunkport, Maine. Among their six children, two followed the father into public service: George W. as the 43rd president and Jeb as Florida's former governor.

George H.W. Bush, elected president in 1988, was a naval aviator in World War II – at one point the youngest in the Navy – and was shot down over the Pacific. He achieved recognition in retirement for skydiving on at least three of his birthdays since leaving the White House in early 1993.

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