Junior three decades earlier. He wasn’t crying, he was boo-hooing.”. From his hospital bed, Penick monitored the New Orleans telecast closely. He believed so much, he made us believe, too. You couldn’t help but feel like we were building toward something special.”. (After a 71, Love trailed by 3.) The metaphysical overtones of the victory confirmed for many that Gentle Ben was more than just an everyday Tour player. “He has different technique on different putts: He’ll draw putts, slice putts, hit the ball on the toe to deaden the speed. Over margaritas and enchiladas at dinner, Crenshaw is in an expansive mood, still buzzing from having just watched the ’95 Masters telecast for the first time in years. I know that seems idiotic, but it had just never occurred to us. The victory secured Crenshaw’s place in the Hall of Fame, but its meaning transcends mere wins and losses. Crenshaw, a student of the late great Harvey Penick, had a stroke that was the envy of the PGA Tour. But it’s with the perspective Crenshaw turned pro after that, in 1973, and promptly won the San Antonio Texas Open—the first PGA Tour event of his rookie year. He also diagnosed that Crenshaw needed to put the ball back farther in his stance and make a tighter shoulder turn. The next day he opened with a solid 70, good for 16th place, four strokes off the lead of Phil Mickelson and the defending champ, José María Olazábal, and three shots back of a guy named Nicklaus. I won Bobby Jones’s tournament.”. But in his early 40s, Crenshaw enjoyed a little renaissance, leading his pal Dave Marr to quip, “Ben, you’re on your 21st comeback.”, In the spring of 1995, Penick’s health took a turn for the worse. He’ll also introduce you to a fellow at the next table named Tito, who founded the eponymous vodka label. (Tiger Woods, playing in his first Masters, posted a 72.) “Even now, people still want to talk to me about ’95,” he says in his honeyed Texas twang. Now Crenshaw is hunched over a do-or-die 5-footer for birdie. “I prayed for strength,” he says. When you’re in the middle of something like that, you’re not aware of the impact. As Crenshaw began visiting the game’s citadels to compete in USGA events, he would study the photographs on the walls and leaf through the books in the clubhouse. As the ’95 Masters plays out on the TV, there isn’t a dry eye in the Crenshaw living room. “I prayed for acceptance for whatever the day might bring.”. “He’s very much like Arnold Palmer,” says Maggert. That strikeout pretty much ended Ben’s baseball career and soon he was making noise at national golf events, including the 1968 U.S. I don’t think you could. Getting dressed for the day, Ben razed a few ghosts by donning a shirt emblazoned with images of Bobby Jones from his Grand Slam campaign in 1930. When the 1969 U.S. Open was played in Houston, Crenshaw worked for ABC as a spotter, sitting in the 15th hole tower and whispering details to broadcaster Bud Palmer. Crenshaw’s interest in golf was stoked by the arrival of a mysterious kid who one day joined Ben and his brother at the turn at Austin CC. He was now a figure of national prominence, after the 1992 publication of the wildly popular Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book, a slender volume packed with so much homespun wisdom that Sports Illustrated dubbed Penick “the Socrates of the golf world.” In 1995, the New Orleans Classic was played right before the Masters. But there was something else at work that week.” While Crenshaw is making a disappointing par on 15, Love is finishing off his rousing 66, keeping him tied for the lead at 13 under. “I’m mighty proud of you,” Penick said. Crenshaw is a welcoming presence who dispenses little history lessons along the way. He was going through a divorce and limping on a broken bone in his foot that went undiagnosed for years, its origins a karate kick of a metal trash can at Colonial. When he pours it in to all but ice the victory, the Crenshaw on the screen is stoic and all business.