Golfers Who Give Back: Bill Clinton

By Golf DigestNovember 30, 2012, 7:30 pm

Less than a week after his stirring speech at the Democratic National Convention, former President Bill Clinton brought that same charisma and a healthy golf game to Liberty National in Jersey City, N.J., where for six hours he took 'about 85' strokes in Mario Batali's annual charity event. Engrossed as ever with the game introduced to him at age 12 by an uncle, Clinton, 66, can talk golf for hours. Especially if the conversation includes the PGA Tour's Humana Challenge and the Clinton Foundation's partnership through its Health Matters conference that's making the former Bob Hope Desert Classic one of the California Swing's important events.

Q: Seems like golf's a priority for you again.

A: I've really tried to get it back this year. I've probably played 25 rounds in 2012.

Q: Which round was most memorable?

A: This summer I got to go back and play Shinnecock with my friend Jimmy Dunne. I just adore it there. You get in those first seven holes, in that bowl, it's eerily quiet - magnificently quiet - and you realize you're living in a temple of golf. The wind was blowing, and I always figure if I break 90 there, I'm doing all right.

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Q: What's the best 18-hole score of your life?

A: I think I shot a 76 once on a little course down the hill from Camp David. On the back nine there's a par 5 nearly 600 yards long. One time when I was president I got within five yards of getting there in two. Another time, I was playing a course in Calgary, and after I made a 30-foot birdie putt on 16 I had a chance to shoot 78 or 79 even if I bogeyed out. But I had to quit because I was late to give a speech.

Q: You credit a 5-iron to an inch on a par 3 when you were 15 as the shot that hooked you on the game. Was there a moment in the past few years that has kept you hooked?

A: My best golf came during the first year I was out of the White House. I was still strong, could hit the ball a long ways, and I got down to a 10-handicap. And then when I started working in Haiti and didn't stop anything else, I quit playing for a couple of years except at odd times. I also had a second heart procedure that made me change my diet and made me weaker, and I just wasn't playing very well. I went out and broke 85 one day and started hitting the ball a long way again. I thought, Well, I'm not dead yet. That's the way it is. Just when you get ready to give up, something wonderful happens.

Q: Golf Digest readers love our What's in My Bag feature with tour players. What's in your bag right now?

A: I have the newest TaylorMade driver, 3-wood and 5-wood. I've had trouble the last several years getting a 3-wood I can hit consistently, but I can hit this one. I've got an old 23-degree Callaway hybrid club. And I've got some TaylorMade irons that are not the latest edition, but I hit them pretty well. I play some old Callaway irons when I'm home. And I've got an old Odyssey 2-Ball putter with a black insert, not a white insert. It's a mallet head that I like for two reasons: One, I can putt from off the green pretty well with it and judge the distance fairly well, and two, ever since I turned 40 my eyesight's not so good, and this one has three lines so it's easier to line up a putt. Most of the time I don't carry a 3- or 4-iron. I'll take a lob wedge 'cause I'm in bunkers a lot, and it helps me get out and not go over the green as much. [Laughs.]

Q: President Bush (43) said it was inappropriate for him to play golf while those in our armed forces were risking their lives overseas, and President Obama has been criticized for playing too much golf. How do you feel about the president playing golf?

A: I never feel bad when I see a president on a golf course. Presidents need to rest their minds, not just their bodies. They need the exercise, the fresh air. And they need to do something that, literally, takes them away from what they're doing. The day I played with President Obama, I'd had about three hours' sleep, and I was so exhausted I could barely stand up. But when the president calls and asks you to play golf, you show up.

Q: Who won?

A: He actually beat me by a stroke that day. Normally he wouldn't because I've been playing so much longer than he has, but he did pretty well that day, even though he's prone to scoop it a little bit instead of hit down to it. The skills that make him good on a basketball court, the fact he's long, wiry and fit, give him a nice swing. When he leaves the White House, he could be down in the single digits if he wants.

Q: The Clinton Foundation's partnership with the Humana Challenge effectively resuscitated the former Bob Hope Desert Classic. What did you learn in year one?

A: I learned that these golfers really do care, that they wanted to see Bob Hope's legacy kept alive, and that they like to give. I've also been impressed with golfers' commitments to health, and one of my favorites is Notah Begay. He's had a very successful career as a player, but if he had cared less about his people and improving health and other things for Native Americans, he would've won a lot more tournaments. I've found a lot of golfers who do this not because it's a mark they check for their accountant but because they want to make a difference. Phil Mickelson is very serious about it. I was at the opening of Tiger Woods' school in Southern California, and it's as good of a program as I've ever seen. Tiger's trying to have a discernible impact on the education of kids who he knew wouldn't get those opportunities otherwise. Those are just a few examples. I could give you more.

Q: Where do you get this passion for improving the health and wellness of our younger generation?

A: We spend over $140 billion in this country treating completely avoidable health problems. Many of them are rising out of diabetes, including heart problems, stroke problems and a lot of other things. If we want to bring down our health-care costs, we've got to take better care of ourselves.

Q: Are there health benefits to playing golf?

A: Absolutely. If you walk a hilly course on a windy day and you play all 18 holes, you won't say golf isn't a sport and golfers aren't athletes. I'm convinced one of the reasons my late stepfather lived to 89 and lived as well as he did was because he played a lot of golf.

Q: Do you walk or ride when you play?

A: When I can, I like to walk. Even if you walk just half the time, playing golf makes a big difference to your health as you get older. That's one of the great things about this game.

Interview conducted by Craig Bestrom; Click here to visit

Photography by Walter Iooss Jr.

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Not DJ, not Poulter: Kisner most proud to take down Kuchar

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 9:34 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – On his way to this week’s Final Four at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Kevin Kisner has beaten world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and the European match play ninja Ian Poulter. But neither match could compare to his duel with Matt Kuchar early Saturday.

“I was more jacked to beat [Kuchar], really. Kuch is such a good player and our games are so similar,” said Kisner, who defeated Kuchar in the round of 16, 1 up. “We both made eight birdies this morning and I barely snuck out of there. I thought it was a lot of fun.”

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By comparison, his quarterfinal bout against Poulter wasn’t nearly as electric. Kisner won two of the first four holes when the Englishman made bogey (No. 3) and when he was conceded the fourth hole, hecruised to an 8-and-6 victory for the week’s most lopsided win.

“I don't know Ian that well, so I don't really have a history with him, other than watching him kill us in the Ryder Cup,” Kisner laughed.

Things won’t get any easier for Kisner on Sunday when he’ll play Alex Noren in the semifinals. The Swede has been dominant this week and is considered one of Europe’s top players heading into this year’s Ryder Cup.

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Hahn: 'My fault for not expecting the worst from fans'

By Grill Room TeamMarch 24, 2018, 8:35 pm

Fan behavior has made headlines all year long on the PGA Tour, and the topic of conversation doesn't look like it’s going away anytime soon.

The latest example came on Friday at the WGC-Dell Technologies March Play, when James Hahn took to Twitter to complain that a fan deliberately yelled in his backswing on the 15th hole during his match with Jason Dufner, which he lost 3 and 2.

“Whether we like it or not, this is where the game is going,” he tweeted. “My fault for not expecting the worst from fans. Just sucks to lose a match that way.”

The two-time PGA Tour winner followed up his original tweet, clarifying that he can expect bad behavior from all golf fans while still loving and respecting them.

He also pointed out a major difference in comparing golf to other sports, saying some PGA Tour players go to far greater lengths than the typical NFL star to engage with fans on a daily basis.

The incident comes on the heels of several recent player run-ins with fans, including Justin Thomas at the Honda Classic, Rory McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Sergio Garcia earlier this week at Austin Country Club.

On Wednesday, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said that inappropriate fan behavior related to alcohol sales is something his staff is monitoring.

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Match-by-match: WGC-Dell Technologies, Elite Eight

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 24, 2018, 8:25 pm

Here is how things played out in the Round of 16 on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. The week began with 64 players taking on Austin Country Club,but the field is dwindling. Click here for Day 3 match results:

Match 97: Bubba Watson (35) def. Brian Harman (18), 2 and 1. Watson was 1 down going to the eighth hole, but he won four of the next five holes to turn around this battle of lefties. A 12-foot putt for eagle at the 12th dropped, giving him a 3 up lead coming home. It was Watson’s second eagle of the day. He looks as if he’s still riding the confidence from that Genesis Open victory last month. Watson will advance to play Kiradech Aphibarnrat in the quarterfinals.

Match 98: Kiradech Aphibarnrat (28) def. Charles Howell III (59), 1 up. Aphibarnrat won in a late comeback, winning the final two holes. He holed a 9-foot putt for birdie at the 17th to square the match and won with an 8-foot birdie at the last. He had not led all day, not until that last birdie putt dropped. The 28-year-old Thai improved to 4-0 on this world stage after sweeping his group in the round-robin play. A four-time European Tour winner, Aphibarnrat is looking for his first PGA Tour victory. He will meet Bubba Watson in the quarterfinals.

Match 99: Kyle Stanley (45) def. Sergio Garcia (7), 3 and 1. Stanley birdied the eighth, ninth and 10th holes to go 3 up, and then he held off Garcia’s run at him, eliminating the world No. 10 with birdies at the 16th and 17th holes. With the victory, Stanley has a chance at a nice Texas two-step, a chance to eliminate the two highest ranked players left in the field, the only players left among the top 10 in the world ranking. But, there’s hard work to do in the quarterfinals, where Stanley will meet world No. 2 Justin Thomas.

Match 100: Justin Thomas (2) def. Si Woo Kim (50), 6 and 5. Thomas remains on fire in this format, steamrolling Kim a day after completing a round-robin sweep of his group by blowing away Francesco Molinari, 7 and 5. The Kim match felt like it was over shortly after it started, with Thomas making the turn 5 up. Thomas will advance to play Kyle Stanley in the quarterfinals.

Match 101: Cameron Smith (46) def. Tyrell Hatton (12), 2 and 1. Smith found himself behind early, falling 2 down after Hatton opened with back-to-back birdies, but Smith quickly rallied to win one of the best matches of the day. He birdied four of the next five holes to go 1 up. Hatton lost despite making seven birdies on the round. He lost despite making birdies at the 15th, 16th and 17th holes to the red-hot Smith, who made eight birdies. Smith will meet Alex Noren in the quarterfinals.

Match 102: Alex Noren (13) def. Patrick Reed (19), 5 and 3. In this Fire vs. Ice match, Ice won, with Noren making easy work of Reed. Really, though, Reed never got a flame going, and Noren wasn’t going to help him the way Jordan Spieth did a day before. Reed was 2-over on his card before finally making his first and only birdie of the day at the 13th. Somewhere, European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn must have been smiling, watching Noren easily take down the formidable American match-play dynamo. Noren will meet Cameron Smith in the quarterfinals.

Match 103: Ian Poulter (58) def. Louis Oosthuizen (25), 2 and 1. Poulter’s match-play mojo is going strong again, with the Englishman summoning the intensity that has made him so formidable in the Ryder Cup over the years. He was on fire Saturday, making eight birdies over the first 15 holes, if you count the concession he received hitting a wedge to 18 inches at the 13th hole. Poulter put a special putter in the bag this week, using the same flat stick that helped him lead the Euros to their historic comeback victory against the Americans at Medinah in 2012. Though Oosthuizen made four birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, he still couldn’t make it close. Poulter will meet Kevin Kisner in the quarterfinals.

Match 104: Kevin Kisner (32) def. Matt Kuchar (16), 1 up. Kuchar applied all kinds of pressure on Kisner on the back nine, but he couldn’t get Kisner to fold in the best match of the day. Kuchar was 2 down with four to go but managed to pull all square going to the last. After missing a 15-footer for birdie at the 18th, Kuchar watched Kisner sink a 12-footer for his birdie to win. Kisner will meet Ian Poulter in the quarterfinals.

Match 105: Bubba Watson (35) def. Kiradech Aphibarnrat (28), 5 and 3. This was a tight match until Aphibarnrat’s short game failed him on the back nine, with a chunked chip at the 10th, a clumsy pitch at the 12th and a heavy heavy pitch at the 13th helping Watson win four consecutive holes. Watson played his way into the semifinals of this event for the second time in his career. He ended up fourth in 2011. Watson will meet the Justin Thomas in the semifinals.

Match 106: Justin Thomas (2) def. Kyle Stanley (45), 2 and 1. Thomas moved into position to win more than the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship. He moved into position to take the world No. 1 ranking from Dustin Johnson. All that stands between Thomas and the top ranking now is Bubba Watson. If Thomas beats Watson in the semifinals, he is assured of going to No. 1. Thomas started slowly against Stanley, missing a 3-footer for par to lose the second hole. It marked the first time Thomas trailed in a match all week. All square making the turn, Thomas won the 10th, 11th and 12th holes and then held off Stanley the rest of the way. Thomas will meet Bubba Watson in the semifinals.

Match 107: Alex Noren (13) def. Cameron Smith (46), 4 and 2. With birdies at three of the first six holes, Noren took an early 3-up lead. Noren, however, made it more interesting than he would have liked the rest of the way. Noren lost the seventh hole with a three-putt bogey and lost the eighth failing to get up and down for par. Smith, though, never pressed Noren after getting that opening. He failed to make a birdie the entire round. Noren, who has won six European Tour events since the summer of 2015, has been knocking on the door to his first PGA Tour title this year. He lost the Farmers Insurance Open in a playoff in January and finished third at the Honda Classic last month. Noren will meet Kisner in the semifinals.

Match 108: Kevin Kisner (32) def. Ian Poulter (58), 8 and 6. Poulter gift wrapped Kisner an early 2-up lead, and Kisner pounced after that. Poulter, who was on such a torrid run until meeting Kisner, three-putted to lose the third hole with a bogey and then pulled his tee shot deep in a hazard to lose the fourth hole. Kisner birdied the fifth and sixth holes to race to a 4-up lead. Poulter had no answers. After making eight birdies in the morning Round of 16 , Poulter didn’t make a birdie against Kisner, who will face Noren in the semifinals.

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Garcia bounced in Austin: 'On to Augusta'

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 6:55 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – For the 16th time in his career, Sergio Garcia’s week at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play ended earlier then he would have hoped, but this time he has plenty of distractions to ease the sting.

Garcia lost his Saturday morning match to Kyle Stanley, 3 and 1, marking the 15th time in his Match Play career he’s failed to advance to Sunday, but at least he has plenty to keep him busy with a newborn at home and his return to the Masters looming in two weeks.

“On to Augusta,” said Garcia, who is not playing next week’s Houston Open. “It's exciting. Obviously when we get there, it's going to be interesting to see how we feel and everything. But it is definitely exciting.”

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Garcia defeated Justin Rose in a playoff to win last year’s Masters, his first major triumph, so his return to Augusta National will be unlike anything he’s ever experienced.

His duties as defending champion will include hosting Tuesday’s Champions Dinner. No word on Garcia’s menu for the event, but various sources have confirmed it will be something “Spanish.”