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March 21, 2016

Ben Crenshaw

Austin, Texas

MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce Hall of Fame member, and two-time Masters champion, and Austin native, Ben Crenshaw. We just saw you make a couple of wild picks there, Jordan Spieth playing Justin Thomas. How about that? How do you do that?

BEN CRENSHAW: I don't know. Best of friends, Jordan probably won't talk to me the less of the week. They've played a lot of golf together. Obviously they know each other very well. They're admirers of each other.

Match play, it's really a short duration when you really think about it. It's 18 holes, the first few matches are 18 holes. So it's a little bit more than a sprint, but things happen quickly. There's a sense of urgency about these matches.

All the players obviously are trying to take a crash course in learning what they can and can't do, where they can take chances. But it will be fascinating. We'll see how quickly people learn.

MODERATOR: Before we take some questions, do you see any correlation between Spieth and Thomas and the relationship they have or are starting to have and the relationship that you and Tom Kite have had through the years?

BEN CRENSHAW: Yes, it we'll see how it manifests itself over the years. But I know this, Jordan will probably say that Justin has been very good for him and his game. They push each other along in a great way. They're good friends. They met on many occasions under different circumstances. It was a fabled, fabled finish at Riviera, when Texas barely overhauled Alabama. That was amazing. The things that University of Texas had to do that day to pull it out was amazing.

They've had a really good rivalry, but it's been said, and I'll say it, too, that so many of the young, really talented players these days that have excelled so far have -- they're wonderful kids. It's great to see in golf. I've been around the game a long time and you want to see personalities like that do well. And they represent the game very well.

MODERATOR: One more comment before we take questions. If you can just comment on the Dell Match Play and the PGA Tour coming to Austin, and Austin Country Club in particular, and how proud you are of that.

BEN CRENSHAW: I'm so proud of Michael Dell and his wanting to sponsor this tournament. I think it means a lot to him. Obviously this was the infancy to an unbelievable business career. He has a great tie to the University of Texas, obviously. He's meant so much to this community and to ally himself with golf is a great thing for this community.

But I think Austin Country Club needs to be commended. They've put together a wonderful place to play in short order, as you know. They just redid the surfaces, fairways and greens. I really think it's going to be a great thing for the TV viewing audience around the nation to see what Austin is and has been. And I really think that the players, those of the players that have not been here, will understand why this place is so popular.

Obviously it's extremely important to Tom Kite and I. We love this place so much. We're only too happy to see the very best players in the world come here.

Q. One of the things that Jordan is working on his dinner menu for the Masters Club, which you host now. How much thought did you give between the first time you won the Masters and the second time you won the Masters, how much thought that you wanted to have a good meal for that? Also, can you think of two or three memorable Masters Club meals you've seen a past champion bring out?
BEN CRENSHAW: The first time I won, in 1984, we just kind of went off the club menu that they had, which was fine. And I think it started very soon after that that the player, the champion, got to pick his own menu.

I believe 1985 was Sandy Lyle's year, and he is from Scotland, a true blue Scot, and he brought haggis, which is a very interesting dish. Really it was fun. So it gave it a real personality to the player.

But I've had, gosh, from -- Vijay Singh had Fijian dishes. Nick Faldo had kidney pie. We've had Adam Scott had some wonderful little potted shrimp from Moreton Bay in Australia. It's been unbelievable.

But, no, you think about it, and I know Jordan is very excited to be in that room, number one, with all of us. But he picked barbecue, which was -- Salt Lick Barbecue, which is, I think, a great choice from right here in Austin, Texas.

Q. Jordan told a story a couple of weeks ago about the practice round he had with you when Tiger joined you guys on the back and watching Tiger putt, a certain putt on 16 that he wasn't aware of, that helped him on Sunday. Do you have any recollections about that moment?
Secondly, can you speak to someone that young and the level of smarts he seems to have on the golf course?

BEN CRENSHAW: You know, I did see Jordan talk about that particular putt, and Tiger was putting that putt from behind the hole on 16. To me that shows you that Jordan doesn't miss anything in his preparation. I think that he has shown us at an early age how well he prepares, not only physically, but mentally.

I'm not going to say that was a random putt that Tiger was hitting, but it was one that you have to learn, as so many putts over at Augusta. It turned out to be a pretty pivotal putt that Jordan remembered. And he showed a lot of nerve in knowing what he saw and obviously had to apply it at a critical stage. But, yeah, it was very interesting.

In a few weeks every putt that's hit in practice at Augusta, somebody is studying that particular putt. You can't study them enough.

I think these greens here at Austin Country Club are interesting greens. They're a little bit convex in spots. You have to know them pretty well, know what they can and can't do.

Q. How important was that 2012 NCAA title that Jordan was a part of, how important was that to Texas golf, considering where it was?
BEN CRENSHAW: I just think that added to his confidence so much. As a junior player, he did many wonderful things, obviously the two Byron Nelson tournaments that he finished so high in. We only had him for one year here at Texas, but, boy, it was a great year. He had a very good team behind him, too. I know it was a great time in his life. But it was spectacular the way that they won that last day.

I must say it kind of gave me remembrances of the time when my team won the NCAA, when I was a freshman in 1971, because we came from 15 shots behind to win. It was medal play then.

Q. Is it correct that you gave him the I've-got-a-good-feeling-about-this speech before they left?
BEN CRENSHAW: I'll tell you, on a personal note, I haven't talked to Jordan that much, but I have -- from the second that I met him, I knew he was different. I thought he had some assets that I didn't quite see in other people. But I'm very proud that what I have said about him, making some overtures, I'm happy to see those things come to fruition. He's different.

Q. I'm just curious what your Masters plans are for this year? A little different? Might you even play a practice round with Jordan?
BEN CRENSHAW: I may play -- I may play nine holes, I don't know if I can play more than that. But I will definitely talk to him, and talk to he and Michael, his caddie. My caddie, Carl Jackson will always enjoy seeing both of them. We like to think that we help them a little bit in their preparation. The first time he played he had a real shot at winning, too. But this last year was a joy to watch, it really was. But he's a quick learner, a very quick learner, and he just played beautifully.

Q. You're not taking Arnie's place as the ceremonial golfer, are you?
BEN CRENSHAW: No, not yet, not yet.

Q. So much has been made about the young golfers. Is there any one of the young golfers just below Rory and Jason and Jordan that you see as somebody coming up that's going to make a big -- come out fast in the next year or two?
BEN CRENSHAW: You know, I think certainly Justin Thomas, but the other boy that -- Grillo, I think he's a really interesting guy to watch. He's got no fear, Emiliano Grillo. And once he's out of that pod, if you want to say that, and when you see your buddy do that well, it emboldens you. I think there's a lot of that going on. I know it is for a lot of European players, as well. You follow and you watch and you definitely say I feel I can do that. That guy did it, I feel like I can do that. So there's a bit of a chain reaction going on. It helps pull everybody along.

MODERATOR: Mr. Crenshaw, we appreciate your time. Hope you enjoy your weekend.

BEN CRENSHAW: Thank you, we'll see you all this week.

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