Crenshaw Seeks First Champions Win


2004 3M ChampionshipBLAINE, Minn. -- Ben Crenshaw is still seeking his first win on the PGA Champions Tour, and hoping a trip to Minnesota will provide his game with a spark.
Crenshaw returns this weekend to the scene of his best finish as a senior when the tour stops for the 3M Championship at the Tournament Players Club of the Twin Cities.
Last year, Crenshaw finished in a tie for fourth place in the tournament, two shots behind winner Wayne Levi. He would have fared much better if not for the 14th hole, a par-4 dogleg protected by water on the left. After parring the hole in his first round, Crenshaw was a combined 5-over on No. 14 the next two days - marring an otherwise stellar tournament.
'I'd like to make as many birdies as I did here last year,' Crenshaw said after a practice round Wednesday. 'I did a lot of good things here last year. But I did a lot of squirrely things too.'

Always known for his putting, Crenshaw remains solid on the greens - ranking seventh on the tour in putting average. But he's struggled with the rest of the game and is 75th on the tour's money list this year - with his best finish a tie for 20th at the Bruno's Memorial Classic in May.
'I've not been playing with a lot of confidence lately. It's been really lean,' said Crenshaw, whose last victory came in the 1995 Masters. 'But I'm trying to make some changes. I'm trying to change my footwork a little bit. I've got to get back to fundamentals.'
Crenshaw won't be the only player glad to see Minnesota, where local temperatures are expected to be in the upper 70s with low humidity when play begins Friday. That's a stark contrast to the sweltering conditions the players slogged through last week at the U.S. Senior Open Championship in St. Louis.
'Sunday was brutal,' said Pete Oakley, who won the Senior British Open in Northern Ireland one week earlier. 'I hadn't worn a short-sleeved shirt in a while. I'm not used to 90 degrees after playing in Europe.'
The final two rounds of the U.S. Senior Open were played last Sunday because heavy rain made play impossible on Friday. After walking 36 holes a mere four months after receiving an artificial hip, Open winner Peter Jacobsen is taking a week off. But 13 of this year's 17 tour champions are in the field this weekend - including two-time winners Hale Irwin, Craig Stadler, Jim Thorpe and Bruce Fleisher.
Crenshaw, for one, isn't expecting a letdown after last week's grueling major.
'This is a very competitive tour,' he said. 'These guys are happy to play when they can - it's the old competition factor. If you're playing well, you always want to play.'
Last year, Levi carded three sub-70 rounds, and his 4-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole Sunday gave him a one-shot victory over Morris Hatalsky and Gil Morgan. It was his first win on the Champions Tour and his first in a PGA-sponsored event since the 1990 Canadian Open.
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