Bush hacker: Former Gov. Jeb draws supporters at ACE pro-am

He was not stumping for the GOP race, but former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush may have snagged a few supporters while bantering with onlookers and signing autographs during the pro-am at the ACE Group Classic at TwinEagles on Thursday.

“You’re gaining a following, Jeb,” part-time Fort Myers resident Mike Turgeon, told the state’s 43rd governor during the seventh hole.

Bush, 59, played with his son, Jeb Bush Jr., 28, and two other amateur golfers, Chris Higgs of Octagon sports marketing and Pfizer CEO Ian Read. They were accompanied by Champions Tour pro Peter Jacobsen.

“Have you ever seen five better looking people in your life?” Jacobsen asked a small crowd.

Turgeon and a dozen attendees trailed the group, which teed off at 1 p.m.

“I like the guy,” he said of Bush. “He plays fast, he’s personable, he’s unassuming. You learn so much about somebody on the golf course. I wish he was running for president right now.”

Bush is in town with family for the 12th annual Celebration of Reading with events at Florida Gulf Coast University and the Hyatt Regency in Bonita Springs today.

“I feel a little guilty; it’s a Thursday and I’m not working very hard,” Bush said before his round.

In May, he’ll speak to graduates of Ave Maria University during their commencement ceremony. Ave Maria President Jim Towey worked for Bush’s brother, former President George W. Bush, as director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives from 2002 to 2006.

“I’m the only Catholic in the family, so they invited me,” he said.

Bush’s fans were hopeful Thursday that the Texas native might still run for president in the future, following in the steps of his father, George H. W. Bush, and brother — the best golfer in the family.

“It used to be me but my brother’s back in the game now and he has a little more free time than me,” Bush said.

Bush signed hats and course maps for Florida residents and visitors at each hole, posing for photos whenever someone had the courage to ask.

“Everybody’s getting Jeb’s autograph,” Naples visitor Bob Hamblen, 75, said. “ Peter Jacobsen is probably feeling pretty strange. They’re both very affable people.”

Canada native Stella Sinclair, 62, told him he looked awesome on the driving range before the round.

“That’s the story of my game,” Bush replied.

Bush’s group shot a 61 in the pro-am, and finished out of the top 3. While he hasn’t announced presidential plans or endorsed a current GOP candidate, the former governor did express support for a future leader for the state.

“Jacobsen for Governor,” Bush shouted as the golfer was being interviewed on camera across the green. “I taught him everything I know.”

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