Ben Crenshaw said goodbye to his golf-playing career, and will now begin his new career.
According to the New York Post, Crenshaw strode to the 18th hole to the crowd’s thunderous applause, while in the offing, thunder rang from the sky. Crenshaw hit his 176th shot for the two days he participated, then it was over. Crenshaw had played his last round, his 138th round, in his 44th and final Masters tournament.
On the side of the 18th green stood Crenshaw’s wife and daughters, giving him a standing ovation. At the back of the 18th green, stood Crenshaw’s former caddy, Carl Jackson. Jackson had been Crenshaw’s Augusta caddy since 1976. Jackson was here only as an observer, however, due to him battling cancer, so Carl’s brother Buddy caddied for Crenshaw.
When it was all over, the two men met at the back of the 18th, Jackson congratulating Crenshaw, then Crenshaw reaching out and hugging him, then Jackson reciprocating.
“He just said, ‘I love you,’ and I said, ‘I love you’ back,” Crenshaw said. “We know how much each of us mean to each other. It was very powerful.”
Crenshaw buried his face into Jackson’s chest, the emotion of the moment too much to bear. As Crenshaw began crying, the skies opened up and it began to rain.
ESPN is reporting that Crenshaw and current Masters leader Jordan Spieth were polar opposites on the scoreboard. Crenshaw finished his two days with an 22-over-par 176, meaning Crenshaw ended in last place for his last tournament. But that’s not the most poignant happenstance here; for the last few years, Crenshaw has been mentoring Spieth to help improve Spieth’s game, while Jackson has been mentoring Spieth’s caddy, Michael Greller, about the intricacies of the Augusta course.
Crenshaw and Spieth, both fellow Texans, have been working together so well that Spieth has a lead this year, led most of the way in the Masters last year, and finished in second place, Spieth’s first ever Masters appearance.
Spieth began as the learner. When it’s over this year, he may win the Masters.
Spieth’s performance will, of course, not be Crenshaw’s lasting legacy at Augusta. Crenshaw has won the Masters twice, once in 1984 and again in 1995. The 1995 Masters was most significant to “Gentle Ben”, because he came into the tournament at the age of 45, and his instructor, Harvey Penick, had just passed away.
Few gave Crenshaw a chance because of his age. but he combined aggressive play and the monumental emotion to secure his second Masters championship. Now, Crenshaw is telling people that he will continue mentoring Spieth, and will be at the 15th hole, watching the match with a sandwich and a beer.
Enjoy those, Gentle Ben, you’ve earned them.
[Image from Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]