President who? A chance encounter

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH – Having covered The Players golf championship tournament for nearly 12 years, the most prized photo I captured took place in 2010 not of a pretty famous golfer, but of a more famous U.S. President.

Having just watched a 17th hole finish by, I believe, Billy Horschel, who had missed on his initial tee shot and was retaking the shot from the drop zone in front of the massive TPC crowd.

As I watched an entourage of golf carts whip around the top of the grassy lawn above the 17th hole drop shot zone, I began to walk toward the first hole stadium which was still a part of the TPC course.

As I walked the golf path behind the 18th hole pavilion in order to avoid what I thought would be a crowd of people heading in the same direction, the eeriness of having not one person on the path with me was something I thought odd.

About halfway between the 17th hole and the 10th hole tee box, which was on the way to the first hole, a golf cart with some suited important looking gentlemen approached me and ordered me to get off the path.

I nonchalantly flashed my media credential to which they responded that “The President is coming pass, you have to get off the path.”

My response was “President of what?”

“President of the United States.”

“Oh!?”

As I turned to issue a more sarcastic response, a train of six or seven golf carts came flying by me to which I, for some instinctual reason, grabbed the wide angle lens camera from my belt and readied it for a pic of this so-called President of the United States.

As it was, there was a bump in the cart path just in front of me.

As carts one and two went flying by and I noticed they all paused to take on the bump in the path, the third one approached, and I shot away not really seeing anything distinct. After the sixth cart went by, I paused to check my camera and, low and behold, the third cart had United States President George H.W. Bush, No. 41.

As he went by, he kind of looked more anxious as to the speed of the carts and the probably surprising bump that he had just hit as his Players hat toppled off his head.

His athleticism displayed itself as he caught the hat in a one-handed swipe and looked toward me with a gaze of surprise that a camera guy was standing there taking his picture.

My take on the photo, which is proudly displayed in my home, is that he paused to tip his hat and say hi. Truth be told, he flew by unexpectedly and I got lucky.

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