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Monday, March 06, 2006

Great stories of the Masters: Ben Crenshaw in 1984

Geoff Shackelford once wrote in Grounds for Golf that temptation is the most important feature in a golf course. Temptation draws players in to try shots outside their comfort zone. Maybe the pressure of the situation or the need to make up some shots makes players overreach and either become heroes or zeroes.

He's right, as usual. Ben Crenshaw came to the par-5 13th hole at Augusta National on Sunday leading, yet facing the choice to go for it in two or lay up. Crenshaw had his three-wood out to go for it, but ever the student of golf history, recalled the plight of Billy Joe Patton thirty years earlier in '54. Patton splashed his secoind shot and blew the tournament. Crenshaw turned to the twelfth tee and saw Kite, his nearest competitor splash his tee shot. Crenshaw decided stick with the three-wood and put the nail in the coffin.

Then something strange happened. Crenshaw scanned the crowd for a glimpse of his father. As he panned through the faces, he looked right at Billy Joe Patton. Crenshaw did a double-take...on his club selection. He laid up. He won the tournament.

Told about the story later and credited with helping Crenshaw to victory, Patton commented "What are you talking about? He must have been seeing things. I wasn't at the tournament."


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