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April 7, 2006

Ben Crenshaw


LARRY PUGH: Ben Crenshaw, another terrific day, congratulations.

BEN CRENSHAW: Thank you. I held it together for the most part. I played pretty solid in most respects. I'm continuing to have a really nice pace and touch on my putts, and that's really helping me. I have to play sort of different tacts on the course. I think I made the remark earlier, or yesterday, that I'm playing from a pretty good ways back, and my ball is coming in pretty hot into these greens, because I'm hitting longer clubs.

But the contours can help you as much as hurt you here. I suppose, I mean, I've had six not so good years around here, but I've somehow proved to myself there's a way around here. So at least it's been a lot of fun these two days. I've been elated at staying in there and having some good chances here and there. But it's been fun.

Q. I know you talked about this just moments ago, but 17, the putt on 17, because you were in trouble off the tee.

BEN CRENSHAW: That was unbelievable. I hit Eisenhower's tree, first of all, bounced way back. Then I half topped a 4 wood out there and hit a full 9 iron and just a really difficult putt. It went right in the cup. I did a number of those things yesterday, but to see that at that time was just spectacular.

So I've done a few of those this week. I've got to play better, but it's attainable. Something is attainable. I'm just elated I made the cut. It's the first time I've made this in a long time.

Q. When I asked you a moment ago outside, what does it mean to you, you almost seemed non plussed. But now I'm getting more of a sense; what does it mean to you to make the cut at this place after the last 11 years?

BEN CRENSHAW: Well, I've never made a secret of the fact that this is my favorite place. It's a fascinating place to me. There's nothing like it. Nothing like this place. And I've been lucky to win it on two occasions and contended on many of them.

I just enjoy it. It's a great challenge. It's a mental challenge. That's what Bobby Jones had in mind when he built the course, he and Dr. Mackenzie. It's different and I like that. It's not straightforward golf by any means.

But it's imaginative. You have to imagine things out there.

Q. What did you prove to yourself these two days?

BEN CRENSHAW: Well, I suppose I've got some game left. (Laughter) That's about it. I can't go much further than that.

You know, I'm on the back side of my career. I have a wonderful time playing tournaments on the Champions Tour. We have a great time out there.

Q. When we asked you yesterday if you could win, you said, "I've had my time here." Which more or less suggests that your Masters days are in the past. How do you feel now, 24 hours on?

BEN CRENSHAW: Well, I'd love to continue to see it dry. I think a super long course would almost be a little too much. But I don't know. It's very remote, as I said yesterday. I don't know where this week is going to lead, but I've had so much fun playing this week. I've seen some great things happen. That's always nice no matter what you're doing. I'm just going to kind of see where it takes me this week.

Q. Obviously you're putting terrifically, but in order to get into the positions you need to be in to get at those spots, you've got to have control over your golf swing. Have you been doing anything in the last couple of months?

BEN CRENSHAW: You do. You just, you know, the test here now is much more solid driving. You must hit it very straight. You know, the course has changed just considerably in that regard. You can't get away with something that's too much off line.

You know, so many people had said before that it's allowable. All those years that were played, it was allowable for a loose drive. Well, you know, the point is, the point is, that we were trying to hit a certain spot, given that much room. And you certainly could keep, you know, keep playing, but you had a tough angle, many, many times. We were always trying to gain angles.

So the predicament is different. The way it played, it was much different as it does now. It's a more prescribed way to play the course now. I suppose that's okay. If you guys are hitting the ball, you're carrying the ball 310 or 320 yards, you must ask, I suppose, for not only a test of length, but a test of accuracy.

But your options, you don't have any options anymore in a lot of different ways. I think maybe, you know, I must say that some of my objections have been that way because it was just vastly different before. But, you know, then again, I think they have done a hell of a job of setting up the course the way that people hit the ball these days. You know, we're running out of things to do.

So I don't know the answer, but they have made a heck of a test here.

Q. On 14 when you made the up and down from the left side, you had some birdie chances on the front, you kind of did one of these, like, was that about time; and also, could you expand on the possession golf that you said out time, about having a possession

BEN CRENSHAW: Possession?

Q. Position golf.

BEN CRENSHAW: Oh, position.

Q. Don't expand on that. (Laughter)

BEN CRENSHAW: Well, that was a wonderful I hit a decent drive for me. I'm hitting a 4 iron back there and I just ticked that limb. I hit a really good second shot, ticked the limb and it bounced over to the left and I'm like, "Where is this ball?" I had to play a little pitch and run over to the left side of the hole, knocked it in. I've had a number of those things happen to keep the holes going, keep the confidence going. So I haven't tripped up too many times that way.

So I just found a way there, that's about all I can do.

Q. You had a great string of pars, but you were not always just playing it safe, like on 13, you were trying for the green?

BEN CRENSHAW: Well, that was a colossal break. We waited, waited, waited, waited, waited, and I was in between a 4 wood and a utility wood and I hit behind it and came up short. Lucky to get a 5 there, really.

There's no doubt I've had some mighty fortunate things happen this week.

Q. There's been so much said this year about statistics and analyzing this, that and something else and we're not even to Sunday. But given a man of your experiences, when this is over, what should be analyzed and what should be meaningful for us to decide the pluses and minuses of the changes?

BEN CRENSHAW: I think, Jerry, that there's no doubt that the whole, to me, to my mind, the whole golf course from the first opening tee ball to the 18th green is a much tougher examination now. We're seeing a drier week, anyway, which let's a few more people contend.

As I said earlier, length is always going to get it's due. Playing shorter clubs to these greens, it makes a huge difference, I can assure you. But, you know, really no matter how long or short the course plays, you have to deal with these greens. They have been the main defense of this course and they always will be. I hope they never change because they are fascinatingly complex.

So I suppose in that regard, the greens have always had a beautiful defense of this place.

LARRY PUGH: Ben, thank you very much and good luck tomorrow.

End of FastScripts.

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