ausgolf's tribute to Ben Crenshaw
Born - 1952
Country - United States
MAJOR VICTORIES (2)
US Masters - 1984, 1995
Although some professional golfers have won more major tournaments and others have collected more in winnings, Ben Crenshaw remains after thirty plus years on tour one of the most popular and talented players on the grueling PGA circuit. His all-American looks, charisma, and grace under pressure have made him a gallery favorite from his days at the University of Texas, where he was heralded as the next Jack Nicklaus, to the 1984 Masters Tournament, where he ended a decade of frustration to capture his first major championship title. His second victory at Augusta in April of 1995 secured his place in golf history.
As one of the best and most personable players of his generation never to have won a major title, Crenshaw had the entire golfing world behind him at the 1984 Masters as he took a one-stroke lead with a first-round 67 and then dropped two shots behind Tom Kite's nine-under-par 207 over the next thirty-six holes. In spite of the enormous pressure, Crenshaw continued to play smoothly during the fourth round. With a ten-foot putt for a birdie on the ninth hole, he moved into the back side with a three-under-par 33 to take a one-stroke lead over Kite and a two-stroke lead over Larry Nelson.
When Crenshaw sank a seemingly impossible sixty-foot putt on the tenth hole, his opponents were visibly shaken. Using an iron on the twelfth tee, Nelson splashed into the creek to take a double bogey. Moments later, after Crenshaw birdied the twelfth, Kite also found the water with a seven-iron: he holed out with a triple bogey that shattered his hopes for victory. Playing conservatively, Crenshaw hit safe tee shots to the fat part of the green on the thirteenth hole for par and on the fifteenth for a birdie rather than gambling on his woods or irons for a more spectacular eagle and took par on the fourteenth hole with a fifteen-foot second putt. Although a bogey on the seventeenth narrowed his lead to two strokes over Tom Watson, who had finished the round, Crenshaw insured his victory with a perfect three-wood shot into the eighteenth fairway and a five iron onto the green, twenty feet from the cup. He holed out with two putts for par to take the title by two strokes with a final score of 277 (eleven under par). For winning that tournament, his first major victory in his eleven years on the tour, he received the prized green blazer awarded to all Masters champions.
His next major triumph came after perhaps the most emotional week of Crenshaw's professional life. Shortly after finishing a practice round on the Sunday preceding the tournament, Ben was informed that his lifelong friend and mentor Harvey Penick had passed away at the age of 90. This was the beginning of a very emotional week for Crenshaw.
After flying back to Austin on Wednesday to serve as a pallbearer at Mr. Penick's funeral, Ben opened the tournament the next day with a solid 70 in a light rain. Under sunny skies and perfect conditions on Friday, Crenshaw had a bogey free round of 67 to move within two strokes of the lead.
On Saturday, Crenshaw continued his steady play with a 69 and entered Sunday's final round tied for the lead with Brian Henninger. As usual, Sunday at Augusta provided many stories and by the time Crenshaw stood at the 16th tee, he was tied for the lead with Davis Love who was in the clubhouse at 13 under par. Crenshaw called on all of his skill and knowledge of Augusta and hit a solid six iron to within four feet on the sixteenth hole and then sank the putt for a one shot lead. He followed that with a ten foot birdie putt on the seventeenth hole and walked up the eighteenth fairway following a perfect tee shot with a two stroke lead. Crenshaw missed the green with his second and chipped his third shot ten feet above the hole. He nursed his putt to within two feet and carefully stroked it in for a one shot victory. The emotional scene on the eighteenth green with Crenshaw and his caddy Carl Jackson will never be forgotten by golf fans.
Sandy-haired, blue-eyed Ben Crenshaw, who stands five feet nine inches tall and weighs 160 pounds, has an easy-going manner both on and off the golf links that has earned him the nickname of "Gentle Ben." A dedicated student of golf history and of golf course architecture, he is one of the best-known members of the Golf Collectors' Society. In addition to the miniature clubs, golf painting and sculpture, and memorabilia that he has acquired over the years, he owns about 800 golf books, many of them rare editions printed in Britain at the turn of the century. He has also written extensively about the game and contributed an introduction to a United States Golf Association 1982 special edition of Sir Walter Simpson's classic THE ART OF GOLF.
Ben Crenshaw has his own web site at www.bencrenshaw.com