In the 11 years between his last win at Augusta and this year, things have not gone too smoothly for Crenshaw. Gentle Ben has missed eight consecutive cuts at Augusta National Golf Club and his 1995 win counts as his last title on either the PGA or Champions Tour.
The 54-year-old fashioned a 1-under-par 71 on Thursday for his first sub-par round here since his final-round 68 in 1995.
'I played fairly solid most of the day,' Crenshaw admitted. 'The places where I had to get the ball up and down I did. I was as patient as I could be. In many ways, this is a new course for all of us with the new tee boxes. We don't know how they'll play.'
Crenshaw had a nice start to his round as he birdied the par-5 second. After three straight pars, the 19-time winner on the PGA Tour stumbled to back-to-back bogeys from the sixth.
The 1999 U.S. Ryder Cup captain managed to get back to even par for his round with a birdie on No. 10. However, Crenshaw faltered to a bogey at the next.
Crenshaw took advantage of the par-5 13th with a birdie, his third of the day. He returned to red numbers with a birdie at the par-3 16th before parring his final two holes.
'I made a really pretty birdie at 10, hit a nice 5-iron in there to about 10 feet,' said Crenshaw. 'I made a bomb at 16 that was about 50 feet. Then I got up and down at 17 from the front right bunker and 18, I got it up and down from short of the left bunker.'
Since his win in 1995, Crenshaw has played 22 rounds at the Masters. Only once in that time had he even managed to shoot even-par 72. Unfortunately for Crenshaw, that 72 came after an opening round 11-over 83 in 1998.
Crenshaw has been turning things around as of late. He has posted 7-of-12 rounds under par this year in four Champions Tour starts. That is a better rate than last year when Crenshaw posted only 23-of-57 rounds under par.
In 34 previous starts at the Masters, Crenshaw broke par 43 times in 114 rounds. This is the 10th time he has put up red numbers in the opening round. He has followed that with another under-par round four times, shot even par twice and was over par the other three times.
The 1995 win came shortly after the death of his longtime mentor and teacher, Harvey Penick. Crenshaw is trying to once again capture some of the magic that he had that weekend.
'I enjoy playing here so much,' admitted Crenshaw. 'It's meant a lot to me. I've been fortunate to be a champion here. With Carl, my caddie, we're just enjoying being here. I've been luckier than most here.'
When asked if he thought he could win this week, Crenshaw joked, 'It's doubtful. I wish to say it was different, but it's doubtful. I've had my time here though.'