Ben Crenshaw is playing in his 100th Champions Tour event here at the Senior PGA Championship, and, amazingly, is still in search of his first victory. (Photo: Getty Images)
Ben Crenshaw is playing in his 100th Champions Tour event here at the Senior PGA Championship, and, amazingly, is still in search of his first victory. (Photo: Getty Images)

Crenshaw crashes at No. 17 but remains hopeful

Like so many others here this week, Ben Crenshaw came to the par-3 17th hole at the Ocean Course on Friday and in a matter of minutes watched all his hard work to that point vanish in the dust of a waste bunker.

By T.J. Auclair, Interactive Producer

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. -- A quick scan of the mid-Friday afternoon leaderboard at the 68th Senior PGA Championship showed two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw in the clubhouse with a 1-under-par 71 on the demanding Kiawah Island Ocean Course.

That score, along with Thursday's 1-over 73, put Crenshaw at even par for the tournament and just four shots behind first-round leader Eduardo Romero, who was about to tee off in his second round.

Tell any one of the 156 players who teed off in the Champions Tour's first major of 2007 that on this course with this wind -- 30-plus mph at times -- that they could take a 1-under score and sit in the clubhouse, and you'd have an empty golf course.

But for the man affectionately known as "Gentle Ben," he walked off the course scratching his head thinking his score could have been at least three shots better.

While his four birdies, on Nos. 2, 3, 6 and 11, were nice, Crenshaw trudged off the 18th green stewing about the most difficult hole on the course -- the 164-yard par-3 17th.

That's where he experienced just how devastating one hole can be at Kiawah. It's a hole protected by water in the front and the right, where Crenshaw lost nearly an entire day's worth of work with a crushing triple-bogey 6.

"I hit a pretty solid 4-iron," he said. "I thought I hit it just inside the bunker, but I looked at the lie and I thought I had a little bit of sand in there, but we have attempted to play shots out of there since Monday and I can't figure a shot out to play. So I may play the hole different tomorrow. I don't know. I can't go through that again."

What happened is Crenshaw's tee shot clipped the lip of the left greenside waste area and trickled down to the bottom.

Attempting to blast the ball as he would in a typical bunker, Crenshaw caught the ball thin off a tight lie -- hardly any sand -- and it rocketed over the green and into the water.

After finding the water, Crenshaw elected to take a drop 50 yards behind the green on the 18th tee box. A pitch and two putts later, he had his 6.

"I won't forget it for awhile," Crenshaw said. "You don't forget triple-bogeys. I wish I could ... it's not something to erase quickly. I'm going to try to figure out some different way to play the hole. I'll be thinking about that more. But that's what can happen very easily out here."

For more proof of that, all Crenshaw needed to do was remember how he finished his first round on Thursday. He was 3-under par through 12 holes before making two bogeys and a double-bogey over his next five holes to fall to 1 over.

While it might take awhile to forget what happened on 17, Crenshaw will still be in contention for the championship on the weekend. This tournament marks his 100th event on the Champions Tour and a win, amazingly, would be his first on the 50-and-over circuit. He's come close a couple of times this year -- first with a tie for third at the Toshiba Classic early in the season and then a tie for sixth at last week's Regions Charity Classic.

"I would love that [to win on the Champions Tour], certainly," he said. "But I know this: I've said many times that there's been a lot of people who played a lot better than I have. I feel capable, I've been playing a little bit better. You have to believe in yourself and hope for the right things to happen. But, no, I don't have any excuses or anything. I just haven't produced and a lot of people have played quite a bit better."

Defending Senior PGA Champion Jay Haas, who was 1 under through 36 holes, said he would have no problem seeing Crenshaw win.

"This year it seems like he's playing a bunch of good rounds and to me it's just a matter of time for him," Haas said. "Everybody loves him and I'm sure all the guys would be happy to see him win. It would be right up there. That would be great."

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