When Ben Crenshaw teed off on the final day of the 1995 Masters, word raced across Texas: Could it be that the jaded world of sports was about to produce a rare moment of poetry? His friend and lifelong mentor, Harvey Penick, had just died, and Crenshaw and Tom Kite had made a whirlwind trip to Austin to serve as pallbearers at the renowned golf aphorist’s funeral, speeding back to Augusta, Georgia, in time for the opening round. Emotionally depleted, the 43-year-old Crenshaw might have considered withdrawing, and no one would have blamed him if he had. One of golf’s dominant players could no longer count on his game: He’d missed the cut in three of his last four tournaments, he hadn’t broken 70 in two months, and his once faithful putting stroke had turned on him. Yet here he was on the treacherous back nine this Sunday afternoon in April, tied for the lead with favorites Greg Norman and Davis Love III—and all of Texas was wishing him on.
So many Masters have been lost on the twelfth and thirteenth, two thirds of Augusta National’s unholy Amen Corner. But Crenshaw did not fall. He saved par with a huge shot from the bunker at twelve, then followed a poor second shot with a bold birdie putt at thirteen. He parred fourteen with a scrambling eight-iron punch from under a tree. The short par-five fifteenth had been a routine birdie for the pros all week, but for the fourth day in a row, Crenshaw could only manage a par. Now, still tied for the lead and with three difficult holes to go, he would need at least one and probably two birdies to win a serendipitous Masters title.
The pin of the 170-yard,