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January 9, 2002

Ben Crenshaw

JEFF ADAMS: Good morning, I'm Jeff Adams, director of public relations for the SENIOR PGA TOUR, and I'm joined here in Ponte Vedra Beach with Phil Stambaugh, Senior Tour media official. Welcome today's teleconference welcoming Ben Crenshaw, who is in his office is Austin, Texas. Thank you very much for joining us this morning.

BEN CRENSHAW: Thank you, Jeff. I think that, certainly, as I'm going into this, I'm going to have fun being a rookie. I think everyone goes through with it and I've talked with a lot of people. But it's going to be fun because I get to play places that I haven't played. So, I'm looking forward to it.

JEFF ADAMS: Ben turns 50 on Friday and he's going to make his Senior Tour debut along with Fuzzy Zeller and Tom Purtzer, and then Wayne Levi will turn 50 in February and join them. All of them are exempt based on their all-time earnings. The 2002 season gets underway next week in Hawaii at the MasterCard Championship on Hualalai in Kaupulehu. All of us in the Senior Tour are looking forward to 2002, with the addition of these great players and the phase-in of the new Senior Tour initiatives Commissioner Finchem and the players announced in late November. Ben is going to make his debut at the first full-field event of the year at Key Biscayne, Florida which is near Miami January 28 to February 3. He's going to play the first three Florida tournaments: The Royal Caribbean Classic, the ACE Group Classic, followed by the Verizon Classic in Tampa.

Q. Between, you've given us your thoughts and expectations about your debut, but you've had a long time to prepare for this. What are your expectations going into 2002 under these new circumstances?

BEN CRENSHAW: I have been away from competitive golf a long time, and I'm looking forward to getting back in, going back to work. I fully well know the competition. I've watched it for a long time. I've watched these players play on many golf courses, some of which I have played, some of certainly that I haven't. But the efficiency of play I think has -- it's seemingly getting better all of the time. I know that there are a lot of players who it's almost like they go into overdrive; they play better on the Senior Tour than they have on the regular tour. I think that's exciting, and I think that -- I don't care where you play, I don't care how the golf courses are set up; the scores that are being shot are unbelievable. The hole has not changed, the size of the hole, I know that. I don't care where you play; you've got to put the ball in the hole that many times to be shooting these scores. I know how well they can play. I don't know how long it's going to take me to get in the swing of things, but I'm looking forward to getting back into competition. You've got to go back into it and try to get a feel of play again.

Q. Do you have any big birthday plans Friday, or at least any plans that you know about that you would like to share?

BEN CRENSHAW: Well, we're going to have a party on Friday night, and I hope everybody survives. It's an important milestone in everybody that plays on the Senior Tour, their 50th birthday. They look forward with anticipation to it a lot. I'm certainly no different. Those of us who have been lucky enough to achieve some things on the regular tour relish the opportunity to extend your career. You know, when you look around, there's not many other sports or endeavors that you can do anything past 50. So, we're thankful for the opportunity.

Q. In view of the changes that they have announced and things they are going to try, obviously in the interests of the Senior Tour, do you feel any pressure to come out on TOUR and lead the way, so to speak?

BEN CRENSHAW: Well, I'll try to do what I can. All of us -- and I alluded to it earlier; we have been lucky enough to achieve some things. I know this, as a golfer, and a professional golfer, we all have responsibilities. I think some of the things that we want to try to do on the Senior Tour are very positive. I think interaction I think is a lot more conducive on the Senior Tour than it is on the regular tour. The regular tour has become very big business, as you all know. The Senior Tour, the atmosphere is slightly more relaxed, and it should be. I think that as players get on with their careers and, you know, you have an eye down the road of playing a few years, and then going into teaching or whatever endeavor that you can, to try to promote the game. We all feel that as golfers, anyway. But I think there's a lot better chance to do it on the Senior Tour.

Q. Given your history in this area, is it safe to assume that you might be with us the week after the British Open for our senior event here?

BEN CRENSHAW: I sure hope so. You know, I've love to come back to the Boston area. I have not made my schedule that far in advance. It's a funny thing when people have asked Julie, my wife, or myself where I'm going to start, I just say, "Well, Julie is going to point me to south Florida and I'm just going to start going." But I don't know where this is going to lead me. I know this; that I will want to play a lot this year. I think anybody, when they turn 50, when they are starting out this endeavor, wants to play a lot. The only thing that's keeping me back are three beautiful girls at home. I don't know how I'm going to balance this, but I'm going to try to play 20 tournaments this year. I don't know where they will fall. But I surely want to get to areas of the country where I'd like to get. I don't know -- since I'm going in this as a rookie, I don't know where to go. I'll have to have direction to the golf courses.

Q. I wonder, also, what have you done physically and swing-wise to prepare for this venture?

BEN CRENSHAW: I think my body has been, I think, a little inactive. I'm trying to do some more exercising. I'm trying to do some more stretching, especially the lower back and the hips. I need a lot of work there, and continual work, and I need some leg-strengthening, as well.

Q. Have you added any extra time as far as range work or aside from the physical standpoint, the game work? And can you talk about Naples, how much do you know about it and how many visits have you made here in the past?

BEN CRENSHAW: Well, first of all, I think that -- no. I haven't been -- I played a tournament in names a long time ago, at Fiddlesticks. I remember that, a long time ago. That was a good golf course, but I haven't been back since. I know that, my gosh, what an area for golf. Somebody told me the number of golf courses that y'all have the in area there, and it's astounding. Certainly, I want to play there. And Twin Eagles, we've heard great things about. But, no, as far as getting started, it's going and trying to get back into a routine, I've been away for so long in sort of a regular assessment of professional golf. So I'm looking forward to getting back on TOUR, so to speak, and getting into a schedule, and trying to, you know, you go week-to-week trying to fix your game, so that's what I'm -- that's a lot of golf. It's going to be fun.

Q. You mentioned looking forward to having the party and going ahead with competition. For most of us, it's been a luxury of looking forward to turning 50. The opportunity that's out there and you know it, as you move forward, how does that change your temperament and motivation and just your outlook on life?

BEN CRENSHAW: Well, I've been lucky enough to play this game for a long time. I think that you want to relish the opportunity of having a body of golfers go around the country and have an organized tour of talented players that put on a good show week-to-week. It has grown, and I think that I want to be part of that, but I know that it would be presumptuous of anyone to think that they are going to carry this or carry that. I think we all -- at least I have always considered myself a part of a very fine bunch of guys that have been devoted to golf. Certainly, it's a life, but it's been very good to us.

Q. Does this make it really easy to look forward to getting old older?

BEN CRENSHAW: It certainly does. It has that capacity, certainly, for us, that we get to play, and we get to enjoy the people that we grew up learning the game and competing against. I always think that -- at least to me, the friendships and the fellowships will be -- those things that make golf what it is. It will be fun to compete, and it will be fun to get in the hunt for my first time and feel what that's like because it's been a long time. I think the fun aspect is something that someone looks forward to, certainly after a period there age 40 to age 50. There's a wide range of emotions; that you're not as competitive anymore, and you're looking at different things in your life. But to have this and to go out and play is quite something. We don't realize how lucky we are.

Q. You keep talking about being away, and I know the last few years have been quite frustrating. Can you just tell us a little bit about what it's like to not be in competition?

BEN CRENSHAW: Well, you know, someone asked me the other day: "What have you been doing all this time?" And I said, "Well, I've been living." You know, it's funny, a golfer, at least in my case, you start out on the Tour and you're totally one-dimensional. You just started tournament golf and you go as far and hard as you can to try to make adjustment, experiment, trials, tribulations, lost tournaments, winning occasionally, because that's what you do in this game. Those of us who are human, anyway. And you relish the things that -- the times and the opportunities that you had to win big tournament, or any tournament, for that matter. And then between the age of 42 to 50, you just start wondering what you're going to do with the rest of your life, where you've been, and you look forward to something else. In my own case, I was a late father, with three beautiful children. You see things differently. I know -- I'm no different than a lot of fellas. I suppose the only way I'm different in that a lot of fellas when they hit the Senior Tour, their families are out of the house. It's you and your wife and you're able to travel and you're able to play a lot of golf. I think that that's where some of the fellas really become proficient. They have become razor sharp because again they fall back into a one-dimensional state of their outlook on the game. So, I've had a lot of -- well, not life experiences, but I had the time to really slow down and enjoy life. So, I've got a lot of work to do.

Q. So now it's like going back to work after being on vacation or something.

BEN CRENSHAW: Well, that's right. You know, you want to go and try to test your game and try to improve it. To me, it's astounding, the level of play. A lot of them -- and I alluded to it earlier, when you see some of the scores they have shot, sure, you know, you always have people that say, oh, the golf courses are shorter and this and that. But not much. And still, in three rounds of competition, these guys are shooting on the average of 5- , 6-under a day, on some good courses. So, that's some outstanding golf.

Q. Just curious about your swing and if you've had any swing help from any instructors lately, or if you think it was the inactivity or just some flaws that kept in that you needed to work on?

BEN CRENSHAW: I know this: My body has been changing for a long time. I'm not as supple. I don't think any of us are, and I have not been so diligent. I certainly have not been of the category that I had been exercising for the last seven years -- I probably should have been, but I can't say that I have. But I do need improvement there, certainly with the hips, the lower back, the abdominal muscles and the legs. You want to try to stretch those muscles as much and strengthen them. I know that my swing feels like it has changed because of my body, so I need to -- that's going to be constant work there.

Q. You don't really see a need to overhaul it technically?

BEN CRENSHAW: Well, I think a golfer always wants to do that. I think there's a part of every golfer who want to try to work on that and constantly tune it. But you've got to play with the swing that you're given, basically, to a great extent because you will revert to those tendencies when you are on the golf course.

Q. What is your impression, if you haven't seen them, of the changes made to Augusta National, and what do you think in general about the tinkering of taking so many par 4s and making them longer?

BEN CRENSHAW: Well, I think certainly I was vocal at the start, but I know that -- and I don't think that it is improper at all for the Club to think about different ways to combat the development of technology in the game. No one will disagree with that. I think these are large changes. However, you know, it may be a fine experiment. The only thing that I would hold reservation with is that I hope that it doesn't change the excitement of playing that golf course because that's what it has always been. It's been the most exciting -- not only in the way that people watching it around the world and on the golf course watch the play. It's very daring, it's very tempting; it always has been. I hope that's never changed. It certainly teams to me -- and I don't know this, but it seems like the champion will come from a few are number of players. I don't know that; that's my feeling. But you want people to try everything that they possibly can out on that golf course in order to -- you want to bring off a daring shot, and I hope that it has not become so much that a lot of people will start play defensive. That's the only thing; that's what I'm trying to get at.

Q. In your game on the Senior Tour, do you relish the opportunity to get back into a situation where the shot off the tee is not as much of a factor as what you do around the greens?

BEN CRENSHAW: Certainly, the length factor, I think, is certainly rearing its head on the Senior Tour, as well. All of us, whether you play the Senior Tour or the regular tour or anywhere around the world, technology has brought us to this point. I mean, every conceivable -- every conceivable golf improvement with the wave of technology has brought itself forward to now. You can see that the median scores have been -- are so much better than, certainly, when I started the game. Technology has brought us to a point where people are thinking about lengthening their golf course. I mean, every -- the country club or the golf club anywhere in your town are thinking about putting back the tees. I think it's sad in a way, but, you know, that's technology in progress, too.

Q. Given your well-known knowledge for the history of golf, did you ever think you would be turning 50 and playing competitive golf at 50 yourself?

BEN CRENSHAW: Well, it certainly had to happen. I think that it had to happen sometime. And no question that when I started the game, when I started studying history, when you watch players over their careers, and when you look at players like, well, certainly, Sam Snead was the perennial. I mean, he could play golf at any age just about, and you see somebody like Jack Nicklaus who remained competitive for so long. He still is. You realize how rare those people are. Harry Vardon was very, you know, he was certainly proficient when he was approaching 50. But, no, I think that we all get a chance to experience this life. I've been lucky to be a tournament golfer. I guess it does seem an eternity from the regular tour the Senior Tour, but, it is. It's a little startling that it's coming now, and I suppose everybody feels that when they approach 50.

Q. When you came out of college way back when you were kind of a can't-miss guy and presumably there was a lot of pressure on you -- I'm wondering how you might draw parallel to what Ty Tryon, a 17-year-old kid, might face given you were several years older and imagine it was still probably quite a bit of a burden onto place even on a guy at your age?

BEN CRENSHAW: Well, Ty is exceptional. There's no doubt about that. But the only thing that has changed is there are more capable golfers now, and there has been for a long time. I think it's a great achievement that Ty went through that school, the qualifying school and did what he did the last day. That's a major achievement, especially these days because of the proficiency level. Now, again, there's been very few people, Seve Ballesteros turned pro when he was 17. Justin Rose was, what, 17 to 18 and he's gotten himself back on track fantastically. It's a matter of -- I think it's something that doesn't happen very often. I know he and his parents had a very soul-searching decision to make to do this. But some people are just not very mature when they are 17.

Q. Most of us.

BEN CRENSHAW: Absolutely. But golf talent, you know, it's a question of how he experiences things and how he -- what his environment is going to be like. I would say it's an uphill battle -- not in golf; I think he's proved that. But I think in terms of growing up as a person and experiencing things in life. That's the balance of the decision, which is tremendously difficult.

Q. Put on your historian hat. Since you always get asked these long-view questions because you've got the book collection, where does something like that rate, kind of, in -- I don't want to say in the grand pantheon of things, but can you put that accomplishment in context, playing your way through all three flights of Q-School at that age?

BEN CRENSHAW: I would rate it very high. I don't know what to compare it against, but it's something that's so -- well, the thing is, I think people understand that there are some very, very fine golfers with a lot of experience that fail at the school, but it's because the competition has gotten better. There's just more capable people. And for a 17-year-old to have that much confidence in his game and go through it, and I suppose the more times you try, the harder it becomes. It has to be. You just see the strain on everybody's faces. I think that's the allure for people to watch that because they know what's at stake for a young golfer and how difficult it is. It's quite an achievement.

Q. Have you had a chance to look at your schedule and see what events you're going to play? Are you playing Nashville in June?

BEN CRENSHAW: I hope so. I'd like to play every one of them. I'm going to start out the first three and then I'm going to assess just what in the heck happened. Because I've been away from it for so long, I really think that what happens is that, you know, you feel like the kid in a candy store. You want to just have fun at this stage and you want to play good golf, no question, but what I have to balance is my family. I've got three young daughters that are really going to be tugging at any heart. My gosh, they are 14, 10 and almost four. So I'm in a little different situation. I would love to play them all, but I don't see how I can. But as to where later on in the year I play, I just don't know. I think I'm just going to have to ask the fellas what they think, where -- it's like I said earlier; I'm going to have to get directions to the golf courses anyway, being it's the first year.

Q. What about the U.S. Open, would that be a conflict for you?

BEN CRENSHAW: On the regular tour, the regular Open? That would not be a conflict, I can tell you that. (Laughs). It's like I told somebody the other day, they said, "Well, how many regular tournaments are you going to play?" I said, "I'm going to play the Masters and maybe the Colonial in Fort Worth." I said, "I realize what side of the pasture I'm supposed to be on." That's all I can say.

Q. Are you surprised at all with the success or lack of success by people like Tom Kite and Tom Watson, Lanny Wadkins, as opposed to the great success of people like Bruce Fleisher and Allen Doyle have had on this tour?

BEN CRENSHAW: I think it's interesting to me. To me, those players, alone Doyle, Bruce Fleisher and a player like Tom Jenkins and a lot of other people play every week it seems, and the other ones don't.

Q. Do you think that may be the difference?

BEN CRENSHAW: Who knows whether that's the difference or not. You're talking about Tom Kite and Tom Watson, and people like that are some of the best players that's ever played this game. So you start -- you start wondering. You say, well -- I mean, who knows what it could be. It just seems to me that Bruce Fleischer, Allen Doyle are playing the best golf of their lives and they are playing so well, and they are putting themselves into position so many times. Their putting holds up, their thinking, their management, their concentration. They are sharp. I don't know. I don't know what to attribute it to. It would be -- I could not come up with the answer to that. You say on paper that some of the other fellas, you know, should achieve more, but you just couldn't know that. Nobody can put a finger on that.

Q. The Ryder Cup, as that gets further away and you look back on it more, what does that mean to you?

BEN CRENSHAW: During my Ryder Cup in Boston?

Q. Yes.

BEN CRENSHAW: Oh, boy. I'm still recovering from that. (Laughs). I look back at that and think of the effort that was put forth from my team and my individuals at a place that is very historic. Coming back from that deficit, having things happen in a very fortunate way against a great team, the European team, everything seemed to come together that day. But it was a great achievement for our side. But I will always day dream about that week and that day. It was magnificent to watch it happen, I can tell you that.

Q. When the fresh-faced kid from Austin turns half a century, that means we are all getting up there, I guess. You talked about looking forward to your Senior Tour career and you just started to touch on one of your highlights of your pre-50 playing and PGA TOUR days. Looking back over your career, sum it up: Two major championships, coming out in 1973 and winning your first event as a professional after Q-School. If you had to look back over your career knowing all you know about golf history, would you say satisfied, more than satisfied?

BEN CRENSHAW: I think more than satisfied. When you look at I've been a lot more fortunate than most. I've had some great experiences. Certainly, the two Major victories, the Masters, that meant so much to me in so many different ways. The first victory was more so to prove to myself that I could do it, but the second one was for someone who had meant my whole life in the game, to have happen at that time was incredible to me. And then the Ryder Cup was to follow a great captain's legacy of players who achieved some wonderful things in this game, and then to watch a team go out and give forth an effort like I've never seen at a place that I dearly loved was quite special. Those three things. And also, to have a chance to win on a lot of other occasions and not achieving it, but to win many events. I've been luckier than most. I'm very satisfied.

Q. When you look forward the SENIOR TOUR, part of the reason it was created was a throwback to the days when camaraderie was a hallmark and not big business. Are there any specific players you are going to enjoy spending time with in the locker room more than you have over the past few years?

BEN CRENSHAW: Well, some I haven't seen, but just on television. It's like you don't see anybody from the time you're 44 on. But, you know, I just remember people like Bob Gilder that I played so much golf with and I'm glad the way he's started, he's started well. I always admired Gil Morgan's swing forever from the time where he thrashed me in the Western Amateur a long time ago.

Q. A long time ago.

BEN CRENSHAW: A long time ago. But that swing will last forever. To see Bruce Fleisher play the way he's playing, to get back with Tom Watson, my friend, and Tom Kite -- and I've been watching him like a hawk. He played so well. But, you know, there's a million guys: Bobby Wadkins, Bruce Lietzke, Bruce Lietzke is probably one of my closest friends. So is Bobby. And my old friend George Burns from Florida. You know, just countless guys. I'm looking forward to seeing Jim Thorpe again. I've really enjoyed watching him play. You learn with your group and feel comfortable with them, the Leonard Thompsons. There's the fun of it. There's no question, sure, you want to compete. Hopefully you get the chance to compete. But it's nostalgic, there's no doubt. Our tour, at least to me, the Senior Tour and some people may disagree with they, me, but good Lord, having the chance to do anything past 50 is pretty good. So, it is nostalgic. It's fun.

Q. What is the state of your putting right now? Will you come out there and will people see Ben Crenshaw the putter that they remember from Augusta and so many other victories?

BEN CRENSHAW: Well, that's a question mark to me, to be real honest. I feel like I hit good putts. I don't feel like -- I don't feel like they go in as often, I'll say that. I'm being real honest, too. I feel like a lot of times, I make a good effort, but I certainly remember -- and I've had streaks in my putting where I didn't think that I was going to miss and sometimes I didn't, but you've got to see the ball go in the cup. I don't care how you do it. I don't care when you do it, but in order for a golfer to have any confidence, he's got to put the ball down; meaning, it's got to go in. I hope to see it more often, I know that. (Laughs).

Q. You were talking about the period between age 42 or 44 and 50. What was your schedule like in those years? Did you cut it way back to spend more time with your girls?

BEN CRENSHAW: Oh, I did. And I wanted to. I think that I had the chance to and I knew while I was doing it I was going to have a chance to. But, you see, that's one thing that you had the Senior Tour to look forward to. Maybe I was going to play more during those years, but I just became a little less competitive as time went on. Just having a young family, I think, changed a lot of that, but that was the way I wanted it, too.

Q. At the same time, perhaps did it give you a chance to sit back, did it give you a chance to recharge your batteries and give you a fresh attitude and fresh look for the run that's coming up now?

BEN CRENSHAW: Yes, very much. So I watch these guys play and I marvel at their abilities. I mean, they all -- I mean, the guys who are really doing well have really -- and seemingly, they have picked up where they left off on the regular tour and some of them have blossomed into better players. That's wonderful to see. You can tell which golfers they are. They have such confidence. That's what's nice.

Q. You mentioned that -- you said you're just going to have Julie point you in the direction of south Florida and then go at it. I assume that means you haven't done much pursuing scouting report on the golf courses. Is that a great contrast to how you came on to the regular tour, or is that just how you want to go about it?

BEN CRENSHAW: It's not so different. I think you just talk to different people. It was funny, I can't talk to Bruce Lietzke about it because he has not gone through the first half of the Tour. But I've talked some to Tom Kite a little bit and I've talked to my caddie -- my caddie lives in Tampa. His name is Lynne Strickler (ph), and I go by Lynne, too. Lynne has caddied some on the Senior Tour, so he knows quite a bit.

Q. So you're arriving blind?

BEN CRENSHAW: Some. What I'm going to have the same feeling arriving at a place that I've never seen before, and that's a nice feeling. It's an anticipatory feeling because you do truly feel like a rookie. So, I've got to go and learn that golf course and figure out how to play it. So, that's fun.

Q. Speaking of the Bay Area here, you've played a lot of golf at Silverado; you've had a great degree of success out here. I know that's down the road, but do you think you'll be playing here?

BEN CRENSHAW: I would love to come back to Silverado. I remember winning the last Anheuser-Busch tournament back in 1980. I remember we played both courses. If I remember correctly we played one round on the North Course and three rounds on the South Course, and I remember battling J.C. Snead down the stretch. But it's a beautiful place to play. I mean, two fine golf courses. I've watched the Transamerica; I've watched it for many years. Sure, you want to return to places that you've done well. No doubt.

Q. Is there any pressure to act any differently on the Senior Tour, to be more of a showman? And also, might we see you in Minneapolis in August?

BEN CRENSHAW: Well, I tell you, the first part, that's a good question because you don't want to -- a lot of people it becomes a lot easier to be a little more entertaining than others. Fuzzy is a natural. There's a lot of people, Chi Chi Rodriguez and people like that, it becomes more natural. But I want to -- the only thing that I want to do is show people that hopefully I thank them and that I'm having fun. I don't foresee myself jumping out of my skin and being somebody else. Hopefully I don't do that because it will come off bad, I can assure you. (Laughs) . But, no, you want to try to be as appreciative as you can. And I've love to come back to Minneapolis, too. I just don't know about this schedule. I'm working from an extremely loose framework right now because I don't know. I don't know where to go just yet and I don't know what courses that I'll hear things about.

Q. What is your history with Minneapolis up here?

BEN CRENSHAW: I played my first U.S. Open at Hazeltine, so that will always rekindle memories for me. I remember watching Harmon Kilibrew hit a home run in the old stadium there. I remember that. And actually, my father and I stayed next door to Tony Jacklin when he won in 1970. He won by seven strokes that week. Just killed everybody.

Q. Last time we talked, you were standing outside the Texas Governor's Mansion in a picket line for the Florida recount. Just curious, when is your next run round of golf with the President?

BEN CRENSHAW: Well, I know that he's going to be extremely busy. He doesn't get a chance to play. I know he'd like to. I'm hopeful to see him maybe when the Senior Tour gets near to Baltimore or up in that area.

Q. Becoming involved in that sort of stuff, was that part of living life, as you were talking about earlier, over the last few years?

BEN CRENSHAW: Absolutely, it was. I can tell that you it's been a very, very big part of my life and Julie's and he has been a real friend. He and Laura, I can't express what I think of him and Laura, and it's been fascinating to watch and we're so proud for him.

Q. Ben, do you intend to compete in the Senior British Open at Royal County Down in Northern Ireland July 25 to 28?

BEN CRENSHAW: Yeah, I've love to. I've love to. We haven't put it together yet. I would absolutely love to. I can't confirm it yet, but I'm going to try to figure out a way to do it.

End of FastScripts....

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