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April 6, 2006

Ben Crenshaw


JIM BLANCHARD: Some comments about your round and we'll open the floor for questions.

BEN CRENSHAW: Well, I felt that I had a few miracles out here happen. I have to chip and putt here. That's the only way I can get around. I'm hitting such long shots to the greens. But I played fairly solid most of the day, but the places where I had to get the ball up and down, I did. I was as patient as I could be.

I remarked earlier outside that, you know, in many ways, this is a new course for all of us; with the new tee boxes, we don't know how they will play. Obviously we're blessed with weather these last three days in practice, so at least it's been dry. So the players are starting to at least know how No. 1, No. 4, No. 7 and 11 play. But, you know, any breeze that kicks up here and there, it's going to change things, or any moisture.

I made the comment yesterday that if it stays dry, it let's a few more people in. I think that's safe to say. But I think it will tend to, you know, wean itself out this week. You must hit a long ball here. This is not a young man's course at all. I mean excuse me, it's not a it is definitely a young man's course, excuse me.

But that's where we are with the game. Not only here at Augusta, but everywhere else, we're lengthening courses all over the globe. I do think the way they have done it here has, you know, it's going to be a treat to watch the players this week, play, and how this course can play. It plays much different than it used to. You know, you play much more on prescribed lines off the tee than you used to. But it never was intended to be a tight course.

But for today's game and for today's technology, I think it's quite a test. It's one difficult hole after another. To test the best players in the world, is quite a hard problem. You don't want to get to a sort of position where you're throwing up roadblocks and throwing up defenses all the time. You want to have it yield to fine play, and you'll see that. You'll see it. I think you'll see it today because it's a beautiful day. But it is one hard course.

Q. What are some examples of clubs you hit on second shots, 7 and 11?

BEN CRENSHAW: Oh, I had a 3 iron shot into 5. That's not actually so much different than what it used to be. And in that respect, you know, the way that the changes were meant to be, of a club's worth in yesteryear, I think that's working out pretty well. But then again, I'm 54. So that enters into the equation, too. But, the first hole, I hit a 3 iron to the green. The fourth hole, I hit a 3 wood. 7, I hit a 5 iron and hit a good drive for me.

14, I had to hit a 3 iron for me. I didn't hit a very good drive. I don't think I can hit much less than a 4 iron on 14. 14 is playing really long for me. And 17, I hit as good a drive as I could hit, I hit a five.

18, I had to lay up, but I've been hitting fairway woods and an occasional 3 iron there.

Q. As long and as hard as it is, is there something about this course and this place that just brings out best in you?

BEN CRENSHAW: I enjoy it. I enjoy it's challenges. There's no other golf course like this, anywhere. Never has been. It's greens and it's challenges on and around the greens are just super, super tough, and you have to manage inshots. There's nothing stylized about it at all, any shots around the greens.

So they are fun to play in sort of a morbid way. (Laughter) You know, the 14th green, I mean, I made one of the best 2 putts I've made there. I mean, it's just I've never seen a green like it anywhere on the face of the earth, nothing like that green. And the 5th, as well. Those two greens fascinate me, and they have hurt me a million times and they will continue to do so, but it's a fascinating set of undulations that never, ever play the same. I've been around here, I don't know, 35, 36 times. I never have the same putt ever at 14, ever. I have to manage inline and speed every time.

Q. Beginning with when you heard about the changes they were going to make to this golf course, and then when you get here this week, what were your expectations heading into the first round?

BEN CRENSHAW: I came in November to play with some friends. Must confess, I did not play the back tees then. (Laughter) I went back and looked at them.

No. 7, you know, when it was changed, the fairway looks like a "P" now. You know, I have to just change my par. You know, there's certain things that I have to do that other players, they are so much more capable length wise and hitting a shorter club to these greens means a great, great deal. If the pin is back on a green, then if I'm hitting a lower trajectory shot with less loft, it's more apt to at least I could play it up to the hole that way. But if I have to make a quick, stopping shot with a long club, it's not on. It's going to be really difficult.

Q. You used the word, "miracles." What were some of your little miracles today?

BEN CRENSHAW: I made a nice par on the first hole. I hit a 3 iron in the front bunker, left it out about 20 feet and made that putt for par. So that was a nice start.

Saw a nice birdie go in on No. 2 from about I'd say 13, 14 feet past the hole, good breaking putt right to left down the hill.

Wonderful par at 4. I missed my 3 wood short of the right bunker, really a tough shot there and pitched it down there about four feet, I think. Very good 2 putt from the front part of No. 5. Never an easy task.

I bogeyed 6 and 7. I had a terrible position at 6. I couldn't figure out a shot there. And 7, I hit two good shots, I hit them just over the green. Missed the putt coming back from about seven feet or so.

10, I made a beautiful birdie there, a nice 5 iron in about I'd say 10 or 11 feet. That was nice.

Up and down, I didn't hit a very good shot at 12. I hit an 8 iron, came off of it, hit it in the bunker, a really nice bunker shot about a foot and a half.

Nice birdie at 13. Laid up. Nice pitch about five, six feet. Made that birdie.

Really good 2 putt on 14, really good 2 putt there from the front. It putted up about two, two and a half feet there.

16, I made a bomb. I made a bomb there. It was about 50 feet I guess up the hill. You know, that was a huge bonus there.

Up and down at 17, a really good drive, not so good of a 5 iron, front bunker. Blasted out about probably 20 feet and made that putt coming down the hill.

And 18, I got it up and down. I had to chip out. I blocked my drive just a bit short of the bunker. Beautiful pitch about six feet and made that.

So there was a few miracles out there. (Laughing).

Q. Now, when you're having a round like you were today, did your mind ever drift back to memories of old Masters, or are you so focused on what you're doing out there?

BEN CRENSHAW: I enjoy playing here so much. It's meant a lot to me. It's meant so much to me. I've been fortunate to be a champion here. With Carl, my caddie, who is just a great friend, wonderful person. We're just enjoying being here, really.

But, you know, I've been luckier than most here.

Q. Carl was saying yesterday that you were playing really well, and that's not wishful thinking. I know you've played three rounds here this week. How much do you allow yourself to dream about the possibilities after this kind of round?

BEN CRENSHAW: Oh, I just want to play and see where it goes. I want to try to continue to hit the ball. I need to hit the ball a little more solid with my iron shots. My irons were not real crisp. Some good ones, but a few little miss hits. I hit a couple in the toe a bit and I'm going to try to work that out a little bit.

I need to try to stay real patient this week and try not to if I just try to hit the ball solidly I think a great temptation here for every player, really, is to try to swing from the heels. You're going to get in trouble doing that. You'll hit some really good drives, but then you just can't hit them off line anymore.

But, really, I mean, the course, you know, in that respect, I mean, the way you used to play this course was either way right or way left, how that you wanted to attack those pins. It was anything but prescribed.

So in that respect, it's changed quite a bit.

Q. Tiger Woods talked a lot this week about playing with a heavy heart. You've played with a heavy heart here and played quite well. Can you talk about how tough that is?

BEN CRENSHAW: It's very tough. I think you know how much Tiger, how much he's thinking of his father. It's a very tough time for him. You don't know how to approach the situation because it hasn't happened to you, and he's concentrating as hard as he can on one of his favorite places here.

But as I said yesterday, he's one of the best concentrators that the game has ever seen. He's blessed with so many abilities, physical abilities, but what a mind he has for the game and some competitor. I'm sure it's weighing on him in some respects, but it's hard.

Q. Just getting back to the previous question before, can a 54 year old win here?

BEN CRENSHAW: It's doubtful. (Laughter) I wish to say it was different but it's doubtful.

I've had my time here. (Smiling).

Q. When you looked at the back tees and didn't play them, coming in here, were you maybe a little antsy, not really knowing how your game was going to suit a course that you loved so much, a course that you've just kind of always walked onto and gone, "Okay, I know how I'm going to play it"?

BEN CRENSHAW: You struggle with how many times you've been around here and you know a lot of different places here. But, no, you don't know. You come to grips with reality, I mean, I've been around here, I don't know, 36 times or something. But to play the course is fun. I don't know how many more years I can play, really, truthfully. So I don't know. I'll just continue to play. But I have to do a lot of different things in order to play half decent.

Q. From the perspective of the golf architect, golf course design and so forth, how would you assess the changes they have made on particularly No. 4 and No. 11?

BEN CRENSHAW: 4 is acceptable for a long shot. The contouring of the green and the width of the shot that you have to play, it can accept a long shot. The face of the green tilts towards the tee, so it can bring in a long shot. And plus, it's width, the bunkers make the bunkers and the contouring of the green make the hole problematical and a high, elevated tee, those things; in other words, the shot, it's long, no question, but the green fits it.

11 has been lengthened quite a bit, but there again, it can take a long shot coming into the green. That is what to me is so fascinating about the two great mounds that are in front of that green. They are built there for a reason. Dr. Mackenzie put those there to bring in a second shot for a lesser player.

And to help the ball kick in towards the green. So, yes, we are playing much longer clubs in there, but it's there. It's a very it's just a completely different tee ball, though. It's such a tight tee ball now whereas before, you had plenty of latitude to play with. There was always a debate whether to go down the right side or down the left and to gain an angle to the green but you must play on a center line now.

JIM BLANCHARD: Ben, thanks for a great round today. You're a real favorite here at Augusta and we wish you luck tomorrow.

End of FastScripts.

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