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MASTERS NOTES

Crenshaw Shoots 71, With `a Few Miracles'

April 07, 2006|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Ben Crenshaw shot a one-under-par 71 on opening day at the Masters and the last time he was under par at Augusta National was the fourth round in 1995 -- when he won his second green jacket.

"I had a few miracles out here happen," Crenshaw said.

That would include a 20-foot putt to save par at the first hole, a 14-foot, right-to-left birdie putt down a hill at the second and a five-iron to within 10 feet at the 10th, where he made another birdie.

Crenshaw, 54, won the Masters for the first time in 1984 and again 11 years later when he shot 67-69-68 the last three rounds. Since then, he has missed the cut nine times in 10 years.

And for the record, he doesn't think he's a threat this year.

"I've had my time here."

Amateur Clay Ogden, 21, the U.S. Public Links champion who played with Crenshaw, said it was an experience he won't forget.

"It was amazing. I grew up watching him play and now I get to witness it firsthand. It was incredible," Ogden said.

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At 70, Gary Player broke 80, which is all he wanted to do, sinking an eight-foot putt for par at the 18th for a 79.

"I was grinding like I was winning the tournament," said Player, who is playing in his 49th Masters.

Player figures he could have scored lower, but he three-putted four times and the 7,445-yard course was probably too much for the three-time champion. Player needed to hit fairway woods into 10 greens and used a driver at the 240-yard par-three No. 4.

A physical fitness fanatic, Player weighs 146 pounds and has a 32-inch waist.

"The way I was walking around that course was very encouraging," he said. "I was going up and down those hills like a young goat."

Said Nick Faldo, 48, also a three-time champion, after his 79: "It's too difficult for me. I ain't got the guns for this place."

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Tom Lehman's four-over 76 wasn't nearly as eventful as his Tuesday night, when a gunman fired into Lehman's car as he was driving to the airport to pick up his son.

"It was pretty crazy," the U.S. Ryder Cup captain said. "I got to the airport and there was a bullet in the car. It was a random thing. He was in a car, going 65, I was going 50. I think he was full of Jack Daniels, had a bad day at work."

A 26-year-old Augusta man was taken into custody by police after the incident.

*

Next year is the 20th anniversary of Larry Mize's chip-in that beat Greg Norman in a playoff for the 1987 Masters title, but Mize wasn't disappointed with his three-over 75. "It's longer than the 23 years I've played," said Mize, 47. "A major championship should demand a lot out of every aspect of your game, and that is what it is doing."

*

Henrik Stenson, who has a victory and a tie for second on the European Tour and a tie for third at the Players Championship, was even through nine holes in his first Masters, then started wobbling. He shot 41 on the back to finish at 77.

Stenson said part of his problem, when he bogeyed the 17th and double bogeyed the 18th, was a dispute with his caddie, David Grant Barry, over yardage information that was relayed to him too late in his pre-shot routine.

"I just lost my head completely with my caddie," Stenson said. "He confused me on a few things way too late in the process. I went short and left in the trap and made bogey and probably took the wrong club at the last as well."

*

Besides the 89 of 67-year-old Charles Coody, who hasn't made a cut at the Masters since 1993, the worst score of the day came from David Duval, who began the back nine with double bogey, bogey, double bogey, bogey, bogey and wound up with a 12-over 84.

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