Crenshaw May Be Humble But His Book is About a Great Man

By George WhiteMarch 28, 2001, 5:00 pm
by George White
 
I was a sportswriter in Houston in 1969 when a high school lad from Austin came to town to play in a golf tournament. Everyone thought surely this youngster was going to be the next Bobby Jones. Forget Palmer and Nicklaus. We had him here in our town. And I was sent out to do the story.
 
Ben Crenshaw BookSure enough, he won the tournament. He wasnt overly communicative, as I recall. His father came with him and answered a few questions. Then the youth was gone, leaving us to follow his exploits via the newspapers. It was much like young Tiger Woods, as a matter of fact, whom I covered when Tiger was still just a boy. Woods was playing the Junior Amateur at Bay Hill in Orlando about 20 years later, and again, his father did much of the talking. And again, I was sent to do the story, this time as a sportswriter from Orlando.
 
The difference is, we knew Ben Crenshaw was going to be the reincarnation of Jones-Palmer-Nicklaus. We just thought that Tiger could be. Of course, the events that have transpired since those days have been hugely significant. Woods has become the Jones-Palmer-Nicklaus reincarnation. Crenshaw was merely good.
 
I was a good player ' a darned good player, Crenshaw says in his book to be released April 3rd, A Feel for the Game: to Brookline and Back.
 
But however you want to define good and great, theres a vast gulf between the two, and Id have to be in the good category. I wasnt a great player.
 
Crenshaw, though, has had some great things happen to him in a tumultuous lifetime. Two Masters titles four Ryder Cups a stint in 1999 as winning Ryder Cup captain 19 PGA Tour victories. Through it all, though, he demonstrates in his book that time and time again he has found the greatest thing of all ' humbleness.
 
His Masters wins came at emotional bottoms ' gut-wrenching times, he calls them. The first came just after my decision to end my first marriage; the second, a week after Harvey died.
 
Harvey was Harvey Penick, the legendary golf instructor from Austin who was Crenshaws teacher. An entire chapter is devoted to him, from the time Ben first met him as a toddler who tagged along to the golf course with his father, to the 43-year-old man who was overcome with grief when Penick died on the Sunday prior to Crenshaws winning the Masters in 1995.
 
The book basically follows Crenshaws life: the little boy from Austin whose big challenge was catching big brother Charlie in baseball; his junior career in golf when, along with Eddie Pearce, he was the hottest player; to his relationship with another Austin youngster who was two years older, Tom Kite; to his life and times as a pro.
 
Crenshaw was so close to a major championship victory before his first win at the Masters in 84: the 75 U.S. Open at Medinah, 1977 at both the Masters and the British Open, the British Open in 78 and 79, the U.S. Open in 80 and the Masters in 83. It was an eternal search for the winning attitude, which Ben finally discovered.
 
It was highlighted in 1984 by a 60-feet putt on the 10th green, a green Crenshaw was admittedly just trying to two-putt. It gave him a two-shot lead over Kite. A pushed 6-iron at the 12th came up surprisingly close to the flag ' 12 feet, and the birdie put him ahead by three shots.
 
When the final putt fell in, the one thing I felt was relief, wrote Crenshaw. I went through it like everybody else who wins their first one, and it was tortuous. Its torture doubting yourself. You always feel capable of winning, but its one hell of a thing to prove it to yourself.
 
Eleven years later, it was fate. Harvey had died Sunday and Crenshaw heard the news while he and wife Julie were dining at Augusta. Ben flew back to Austin where he met Kite, and the two were pallbearers at the funeral Wednesday. On Thursday the tournament began with Crenshaw not expecting much.
 
But on Sunday afternoon, there he was, in the role of contender. I just kept thinking, Play each hole. Take what the course gives you. Feel the shot. Dont let anything come into your mind except those two things you were working on. And trust yourself, Crenshaw said.
 
And then came the final putt at 18 and it was over.
 
When the last putt dropped, I dropped, he wrote. I still get a lump in my throat when I talk about it. It was such a relief that it was over and I was thinking of so many things. I was thinking of the little guy starting out in golf, of Harvey, and of my family. And, I was thinking I was lucky.
 
He had to be lucky during his tenure as Ryder Cup captain. He describes in gripping detail the emotions that were going through the American team room as the Europeans amassed a four-point lead going into the final day. Then, the I believe in fate speech to the press. And the impossible task which suddenly became possible for an American victory.
 
The golfing world will probably be most interested in his reactions to heated criticism which came Americas way after the victory. Crenshaw deals with it in a chapter he calls, One Apology is Enough. He describes a phone call from European captain Mark James a week after the matches. James started by complimenting the American team, then launched into three assertions: 1, Payne Stewart was seen or overhead giving advice to another player, which is against the rules; 2, Andrew Coltart was sent off in the wrong direction when he asked marshals where to look for an errant drive; and 3, the Americans had intentionally incited the crowd.
 
Crenshaw takes great exception to these assertions. Youre going to accuse Payne Stewart of passing information to a player? he writes. That galls me. And assert that two marshals high-fived each other after sending Coltart in the wrong direction? And we incited the cheering?
 
The most troubling of the accusations, said Ben, was the players inciting the crowd. Mark described it with a soccer analogy, saying that if a player on your side incites the crowd, then your team receives a penalty, said Crenshaw. What I saw was a team getting excited about the way it was playing, and the fans reacting.
 
Crenshaw has achieved greatness in his own special way. His book, though, is another story. His book tells the story of a humble man, who went all the way to the top of the game.
 
Ben Crenshaw's Pro Bio
 
Full Coverage of the 2001 Masters Tournament
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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x