Clinton aims for Obama's seal of approval at Challenge

Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:13pm EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LA QUINTA, California (Reuters) - While Bill Clinton's involvement with the Humana Challenge has given the tournament a much needed boost, the former U.S. president hopes to add further luster with a visit by President Barack Obama.

Both men are keen amateur golfers and Clinton believes Obama would relish a trip to the California desert to see what the $5.6 million PGA Tour event is doing away from the course to help raise awareness about health.

Since 1960, the popular pro-am tournament has donated more than $52 million to Eisenhower Medical Center and a variety of local charities with last year's edition raising a record total of almost $2.1 million.

"I would like to talk him (Obama) into coming out here," Clinton, whose own charitable foundation linked up with the Humana Challenge last year, told a news conference at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday during the opening round.

"I came once as president for (tournament host) Bob Hope and I think it would really mean a lot to him (Obama). He and Michelle Obama could look at some of this (health awareness) stuff that's part of what they're trying to do."

"I would be doing him a favor if I brought him here next year," Clinton added with a grin. "He has become a total golf nut and, you know, he never got to play very much before."

The two men have played golf together on several occasions, most recently at Andrews Air Force Base where they completed just 13 holes before Obama had to leave because of work commitments.

"And he had the lowest score by far he had ever shot at Andrews, he was five shots ahead of me after nine holes," Clinton recalled. "But I'm older. I start slow and pick up.   Continued...