Greg Norman talks friendship with President Bush 41, attends funeral

SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 8: International Team Captain Greg Norman, left, and former President George H.W. Bush, right, chat on the first tee during the first round foursome matches for The Presidents Cup at Harding Park Golf Club on October 8, 2009 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR) Stan Badz/PGA Tour (2008)

Greg Norman talks friendship with President Bush 41, attends funeral

Golf

Greg Norman talks friendship with President Bush 41, attends funeral

There are plenty of reasons for Greg Norman to be here in Naples this week.

After all it’s the 30th anniversary of the PGA Tour event that he founded, and is being played for the 18th year at Tiburón Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort.

Norman skipped the Wednesday of the pro-am — he normally plays in it, and he plans on being back for Thursday’s second day. This speaks to the relationship and respect that Norman has for former President George H.W. Bush, who died at the age of 94 on Friday.

“He was probably the purest human being I’ve ever had the chance to meet,” Norman said Tuesday following a lengthy photo shoot for Cobra Golf at Tiburón Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort. “He’s a guy who never failed to be there to give advice.”

Norman attended Bush’s funeral services Wednesday. Fox News Channel’s Bret Baier, who has played the past few years in the pro-am, also skipped coming to Naples because he will be covering it and be with the Bush family.

Norman even sought out Bush’s advice when the office of President Clinton, a Democrat, contacted Norman about playing golf with him because he was coming to Australia. Norman, who is a Republican, wasn’t sure about playing with Clinton.

“I don’t want to play with him because I don’t really like a lot of things he’s trying to recommend,” Norman told Bush.

Bush gave a very direct answer.

“Greg, you shall respect the Office of the President of the United States,” Bush said.

“I said ‘Yes, sir’ and I played with President Clinton,” Norman said.  “It was all about the office, and respect for the office, regardless of the person who’s in it.”

Norman and Clinton became friends.

“Because of 41, I developed a friendship with 42,” said Norman, referring to Bush and Clinton by the numbers associated with the order of Presidents (Bush was the 41st President of the United States).

Norman said Bush was “the fastest golfer I’ve ever played golf with. You hit when you’re ready. If you played in more than an hour and 40 minutes, 18 holes, he’d be upset.”

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