The Loop

Of Course Ben Crenshaw's Masters farewell included a totally surreal moment

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Ben Crenshaw said farewell to Masters competition after 44 years. And because he's been known to say a thing or two about destiny -- calling a Ryder Cup when his team was down 8 to 4 -- there was an inevitably surreal scene at the par-3 12th Friday at Augusta National.

As Crenshaw and playing partners Jason Dufner and Bill Haas crossed the Hogan Bridge over Rae's Creek, a red-tailed hawk was sitting on the grass. Crenshaw, a lifelong "birder," also immediately made the connection with Ben Hogan's nickname, "The Hawk." So as Crenshaw began to prepare for his 14-foot birdie putt, Dufner, a noted Hogan worshipper, said, "Ben Hogan's watching.  You'd better make that putt."

Crenshaw missed the putt.

"I choked!" he said after the round but then turned serious. "It was just surreal.  It was really a neat moment.

While his 91-85 was mercifully not noted on scoreboards or television graphics, no one seemed to mind. Crenshaw received standing ovations at every hole and was greated by a gathering of friends, family, club members and players (Bubba Watson, Nick Price) behind the 18th green. However, it was seeing longtime caddie Carl Jackson that brought the entire day together for Crenshaw, who only shed a few tears.

"It wouldn't have been any other way to end it without you being there," Crenshaw said to Jackson, who sat in the post round news conference. "And you were very perfect.  That was a great hug there, buddy."