IRVING, Texas — As former President George W. Bush kicked off a golf tournament for wounded members of the U.S. military Monday, he said the event was not only a chance to watch good golf, but also "a celebration of patriotism, courage and sacrifice."
"I want to thank the players for being here and I wish them all the best," Bush said. "I'm looking forward to presenting the trophy to the best golfer. If we had to give a trophy to the best person, everybody's a winner."
Twenty-two military members wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan are participating in the two-day Warrior Open, which Bush is hosting in the Dallas suburb of Irving.
The tournament, now in its second year, is part of the George W. Bush Institute's Military Service Initiative. Since leaving office, Bush has focused on the work of his institute, which is part of the George W. Bush Presidential Center. The center is set to open in the spring and will include Bush's presidential library and museum.
Those taking part in the event this year include retired U.S. Army Cpl. Chad Pfeifer, who won last year's tournament.
"The competition for golf was good and to be able to hang out with President Bush — it was great," he said. "He's always thought about the troops and for him to continue to do that even when he's out of office is incredible."
Pfeifer's leg was amputated above the knee after his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device while serving in Iraq in April 2007. He said that while he was undergoing rehabilitation, he began playing golf in earnest and found that it helped with his recovery.
"I just kind of got hooked," he said, adding, "It was just therapeutic to be outside and doing something that I loved."
After he medically retired from the military in August 2008, Pfeifer decided to pursue a career in golf and currently works at a course in Goodyear, Ariz. He said that golf has also helped him with his sense of balance as he learned to function with a prosthetic leg.
"The movement of the golf swing gives you a sense of balance and it's good for working on that balance with the prosthetic leg," Pfeifer said.
George W. Bush Presidential Center, http://www.bushcenter.com/