Gentle Ben hangs up Masters spurs

Fri Apr 10, 2015 8:55pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Ben Crenshaw made a final drive up Magnolia Lane for a competitive round of golf on Friday and then quickly veered off down Memory Lane for one final Masters joy ride.

Twice a Masters champion, the fight long ago left 63-year-old Gentle Ben's game and the Texan decided it was time to "hang up the spurs". His last round on a hot, muggy day was a ceremonial lap of honor rather than a battle to make the cut.

"I'm very thankful to go around this many times and it's time to hang the spurs up," said Crenshaw. "I have absolutely no reservations. I have been thinking about this for a long time, four or five years.

"I feel like I've won the tournament."

Crenshaw signed off with a tap-in bogey at the 18th for a 13-over 85 but few in the large gallery offering standing ovations at every tee and green were keeping count as the 1984 and 1995 champion settled in at the very bottom of the leaderboard.

The only thing missing from this golfing sentimental journey through the Georgia pines and azaleas was Crenshaw's longtime caddie Carl Jackson, the man who had been on his bag for most of his 44 Masters.

Too frail from battling lung cancer and suffering from shoulder and rib pain, Carl handed off duties to brother Bud but the 67-year-old looper dressed in his familiar white caddie overalls was still there at the end, looking on from behind the 18th green as his boss took his final putt.

As the ball disappeared into the cup and the gallery rose in a thunderous ovation, Carl walked haltingly onto the green, the towering caddie and diminutive golfer wrapping around each other in an emotional embrace.   Continued...

Ben Crenshaw of the U.S.  waves good-bye on the 18th green after golfing his final round at the Masters during second round play of the Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, Georgia April 10, 2015.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder