"I've put too much pressure on myself, there's no question about it," he said. "I love golf and golf history. I've dreamed of winning major championships. I've wondered when it was ever going to happen to me. I'd thought two years ago that it would never happen. I guess you can say this is more of a relief than anything."
And he liked the way he won.
"Golf is the hardest game in the world to play well," he said, "and as soon as you start thinking you're somebody special, it'll teach you a lesson." Ever the golf historian, Crenshaw recalled the words of Bobby Jones and quoted him: "You swing your best when you have the fewest things to think about."
It is an awkward thing to discuss now, but the best thing Crenshaw had going for him—peace of mind—might have been the result of his putting marital discord out of his life. His roommates most of the week were country and western stars, the Gatlin brothers, and not his wife, Polly, long admired as one of the tour's prettiest wives. The new Masters champion and Polly, who was in the Virgin Islands, are separated, headed for a divorce that has been on-again-off-again during the past few years of Crenshaw's turbulent career. Polly and Ben were the Hollywood couple of the tour. She was the lead Wren, a gorgeous blonde who married Ben when she was 17 and tried to learn as much about Harry Vardon as she knew about The Rolling Stones. She gave up college proms for a guy who putted on hotel carpets, and so, perhaps from the beginning, this tour marriage wasn't going to be an easy one.
Their friends are happy that the split is mutual and amicable, and they were certain that wherever Polly was Sunday night, she was as thrilled to hear of Ben's victory as she would have been had she been dolling up the gallery.
Nothing could say more about the popularity of Crenshaw's victory than the comment of another wife, Penny Wadkins, whose husband, Lanny, was among headliners like Ballesteros, Hal Sutton add Johnny Miller who would miss the 36-hole cut. On Friday afternoon, as Lanny was struggling on the course and Penny was trudging mournfully over the fairways, she ran into a friend in the gallery.
"It's not our week," Penny said to her friend, "but pull for Ben and tell him that we're rooting for him."
So was just about everybody else on Sunday, and Gentle Ben knew it.
"I'm fortunate to have so many friends," he said when it was over. "And if there was one thing going through my mind out there it was how I didn't want to let everybody down again."
This time, Crenshaw didn't, and now those dogwoods will be partly his forever. Mainly because he stayed out of them for a change.