Ford, Bush tee off on golf spectators

THE BALTIMORE SUN

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Former President Ford lived up to his reputation by hitting a spectator and scattering the gallery with errant golf shots, but he was upstaged by partner George Bush -- who hit two people.

Playing yesterday with the former presidents in the Bob Hope Desert Classic were President Clinton, Mr. Hope and Scott Hoch, last year's winner.

On the 10th hole, Mr. Bush slapped a shot from the rough to the fairway -- smacking 71-year-old Norma Early of Vista, Calif., in the face. Mr. Bush apologized, and Ms. Early was treated at a hospital and released.

Four holes later, Mr. Bush hit John Rynd of Chula Vista, Calif., on the back of the leg. "How's the wound?" Mr. Bush asked. Said Mr. Rynd: "No blood, no problem." Mr. Bush signed Mr. Rynd's ball and kept playing.

Mr. Ford -- who beaned spectators at least twice in previous tourneys -- hit a North Dakota woman on the hand and sent the crowd lining the fairway running for cover with a tee shot.

The fivesome drew large crowds, and if there were any hard feelings between Mr. Clinton and Mr. Bush -- who ran against each other in 1992 -- they didn't show. The group posed for pictures to mark the event, amid much good-natured kidding.

"Ask me anything you want," Mr. Ford said to reporters. "I'm the spokesman."

Later, Mr. Ford said he would serve as mediator for the group.

"What are your qualifications?" Mr. Bush demanded.

"I'm the one who decides who gets the putts," Mr. Ford said. Mr. Ford also offered a prophetic warning. "You better stand behind us."

Mr. Clinton said there were no bets on the game, since they were playing as a team. He also said politics would not be discussed -- nor any Mulligans (free shots) taken.

Veteran Clinton watchers told tales of times he would hit two and three drives, taking the best one.

"He's the president," one said. "He can do what he wants."

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