Ben Crenshaw Calims Emotioal Victory At Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta

Ben Crenshaw Calims Emotioal Victory At Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta

IF one had to hand pick the ideal player to win the Masters golf tournament, Ben Crenshaw would be your guy. He, more than anyone else, reveres the tournament and its guiding light, Bob Jones, a champion player of the 1920s who built the Masters into a gracious and venerable competition.

In fact, a month ago Crenshaw went on ''Golf Talk Live,'' a call-in show on the new 24-hour Golf Channel, to talk about Jones. At the time, the thought of Crenshaw winning the Masters for a second time (he won in 1984) didn't seem a strong possibility.

Nonetheless, Crenshaw pulled through an emotional weekend of shotmaking to win his favorite tournament and also pay tribute to his golf teacher of many years, Harvey Penick, who passed away in the days before the Masters.

''It was like someone put their hand on my shoulder ... and sort of guided me through,'' Crenshaw said, reflecting on a victory so wrenching that he momentarily slumped over the final hole as his winning putt dropped in.

Crenshaw finished with a 14-under-par total of 274 to take a one-shot victory over Davis Love III, another Penick pupil. Amazingly, Crenshaw played 72 holes without ever three-putting one of the fast greens of the Augusta National Golf Club of Augusta, Ga. That's a feat even for perhaps the best putter on the pro tour, who says that pace is 70 to 80 percent of putting.

''I try to have the ball arrive at the cup very softly,'' he says.

Like other top players, Crenshaw has begun to turn some of his attention to designing courses and has built Sand Hills Golf Club in Mullen, Neb., to resemble the famous British Isles courses.

The most famous of these is St. Andrews in Fife, Scotland, where the British Open will be played July 20-23. Expect Crenshaw to play like a tiger there.

Men and women: equal sprinters?

IF women and men ever compete head-to-head in track and field, some suspect it might occur in distance running, where physical differences seem bridgeable. It may be surprising, therefore, that among 17 events, women currently come closest to men's performances in the sprints -- the 100- and 200-meter dashes.

This is the conclusion of a statistical analysis presented in Alphonse Juilland's Track And Field Letter, which calculates the percentage difference between men's and women's world records. Florence Griffith-Joyner's record times in the 100 and 200 most nearly equal the corresponding male records. The marathon is No. 7 on the list, with the greatest gap in three throwing events -- discus, shot put, and javelin.

Touching other bases

* Pop quiz: On April 22 in Annapolis, Md., the Naval Academy and St. John's College will renew a local sports rivalry that GQ magazine has called ''the purest intercollegiate athletic event in America.'' What sport inspires the Middies to don double-breasted jackets and the Johnnies to wear Gatsbyesque attire? (Answer appears below.)

* ''Perfect'' was the buzzword in women's college basketball this season. Not only did the University of Connecticut's team win the major-college title with a 35-0 record, but North Dakota State and Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, secured the Division II and III crowns, respectively, with undefeated seasons.

* On Monday, the National Football League became the first sports league to claim an electronic beachhead on the Internet. Its ''NFL Sideline,'' available on World Wide Web ( will carry all sorts of draft-related information and on-line analysis leading up to the annual selection of college players on April 22 and 23.

* Downsizing may be an acceptable practice in corporate America, but the strategy is sometimes abused by high school wrestlers. ''We've had cases where an individual wrestles at one weight class all year and then drops a weight class for the state tournament,'' says Fritz McGinness, associate director of the National Federation of State High School Associations and national wrestling rules editor. ''This, obviously, is something we want to eliminate from a health and safety standpoint.'' To prevent cases of crash weight loss, wrestlers will have to lock in a minimum weight by midseason. The new rule takes effect next school year.

* Quiz answer: Croquet. Navy is the defending national college champion. After vying with St. John's for the Annapolis Cup, students from the two schools will dance the night away at the Croquet Ball.

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