His first, a 180-yard five-iron, dived into the hole on the fly on Thursday to help him to a 67, only one shot behind the first-day leaders, Phil Mickelson, defending champ José María Olazábal and David Frost. The second came on Saturday, when Nicklaus "missed" a seven-iron, 12 feet right of where he had aimed, and the ball proceeded to run into the cotton-picking jar. For the week Nicklaus's shooting percentage from 540 feet away into a hole not much bigger than a tuna tin was exactly 50%, or almost as good as Shaq's from the free throw line.
By Saturday night Nicklaus was out of it (he finished 35th), but almost nothing else had been settled. The big scoreboard didn't have enough room for all the names that should have been up there. Davis Love III was at seven under, only three shots behind the leaders, Crenshaw and Brian Henninger. Was there a better story than Love's? The man who the previous week in New Orleans had made the last possible putt in the last possible tournament to win the last possible ticket to Augusta? The same Love for whom Penick had clapped twice only hours before his death, upon hearing that Love was making that ninth-inning, two-out, two-strike effort? Love, too, had wanted to go to the funeral, but a close friend told him that he should take the time to prepare, to get a little rest, that that's what Mr. Penick would have wanted. That friend was Crenshaw.
Would the winner be Henninger, a man so small and Webelo-faced that once, at the Western Open, he drove up to valet parking in his courtesy car, and Sue Price, Nick's wife, got in the front seat, thinking her driver had arrived?
Or would the winner be one of five guys one shot back: Steve Elkington, trying to take home a present for his two-week-old daughter; 24-year-old Mickelson, looking to begin the run of majors that everyone has predicted for him; Couples; Haas; or even Scott Hoch, who was attempting to get back the unforgiving two-footer he missed to lose the 1989 Masters? Wait a minute. Curtis Strange was only two strokes behind, the Shark three. In all, 23 players, representing nine green jackets, were crammed into a seven-shot bunch.
On Sunday, however, Henninger's training wheels came off with bogeys at 2 and 3. Elkington made a mess of things with bogeys at 9 and 11. Mickelson's potential crashed and burned with a 73, and Hoch faltered with the same score. Couples three-jacked 11 and 12 and never resurfaced. Haas dumped one into the water at 15 and bogeyed 16. All of which left three players in a green-jacket raffle—the red-hot pairing of Love and Norman, and Crenshaw, who was playing 45 minutes behind them. They were tied at 12 under.
Then Crenshaw rolled in the prettiest little putt you ever saw at 13 for a birdie and a one-shot lead. On the next hole he punched a shut-faced eight-iron from under a tree that kicked obediently off a mound and to within 12 feet of the hole, an impossible, indescribable piece of luck and skill. In the gallery Julie said to herself, Harvey bounce. At home in Austin, 81-year-old Charlie Crenshaw could feel himself starting to well up. In the pro shop at Austin Country Club, Tinsley Penick, Harvey's successor as head pro, watched on his 16-inch set.
Crenshaw missed his 12-footer at 14, but up ahead something odd was happening to Norman and Love, who together had made 11 birdies and not a single bogey in 15 holes. Faced with an easy tee shot at the par-3 16th, Love carried his seven-iron too far. "Sometimes you wonder if things are meant to be," he would say later. "That shot went four or five yards farther than I should be able to hit and stayed on top of that hill. No way it should stay up there." He three-putted. On the par-4 17th hole Norman had the easiest 106-yard sand wedge you could want, blew it 40 feet to the left of the hole and then three-putted. What in the world was going on?
Norman was done (he would tie for third), but Love came back with a birdie at 17 and a 66 that tied him with Crenshaw at 13 under. Then he had the pure joy of going to Jones Cabin to watch history's finest putter have a go at maybe history's finest greens.
"I just had this strong feeling the whole week," Crenshaw said later. "I never had a week like this, where I really enjoyed playing golf the whole week." Just trust yourself.
Maybe Harvey Penick has learned to channel golf tips through Augusta caddies, or maybe Crenshaw went out and won all by himself. However it happened, Crenshaw birdied the next two holes—the 16th from five feet and the 17th from 13—for a two-stroke cushion. In the gallery gallery Julie Crenshaw's makeup started to run a little, and back in Austin, Charlie Crenshaw soaked his sleeves with tears, and Tinsley Penick held a celebration for two with only one person in the room.