‘It’s going to be difficult’: Ben Crenshaw weighs in on LIV and Champions Dinner

Ben Crenshaw

Ben Crenshaw during an event in 2018.

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Ben Crenshaw says he doesn’t anticipate much animosity at this year’s Masters Champions Dinner. 

But he’s also not naive. 

“It’s going to be difficult,” the two-time winner at Augusta National said this week on Golf Channel’s Golf Today

“I know some players have — it’s probably going to be tense in a few moments, I would suppose.”

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Crenshaw’s comments came about two weeks before the annual bread-breaking among former Masters champions ahead of the tournament — and, to Crenshaw and others’ interest, one of the first publicly known closed-quarters gatherings of LIV Golf and PGA Tour players, too. In short, the sides have traded shots and lawsuits, and now LIV’s six green jacket wearers — Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson Dustin Johnson and Charl Schwartzel — will eat off the menu of last year’s winner, Scottie Scheffler

It’s all been a talking point. Jon Rahm, who’s never won the event, has said he wishes he were at the table. Tiger Woods, a five-time champion, has said “emotionally, there’s a lot there.” 

On Golf Today, Crenshaw agreed with that thought. For clarity, here is the complete exchange between him and host Eamon Lynch:

“Ben, you’re one of the very select group who knows where he’s eating dinner Tuesday night of the Masters every year, which is probably the most elite group in this game,” Lynch said. “There’s a lot of water under the bridge since the last Champions Dinner at Augusta, a lot of comments have been made in public by different people who will be there. Do you sense it’s going to be any different this year, the mood? Or what are you anticipating?”

“I really think that, certainly my insistence, is to honor Scottie Scheffler, the champion,” Crenshaw said. “Each year, we honor the champion; it’s his dinner; it’s his menu. It’s an eclectic menu, too. A little bit of everything. I’m actually looking forward to seeing Scottie this week in Austin [for the WGC-Match Play]. I’m going to have a word with him, first of all to congratulate him on his unbelievable play. Gosh, can’t tell you how much fun it’s been watching. 

“But you know, we’re all champions in that room. By last count, I think there’s seven players that have joined LIV. But my insistence is going to be on, look, everyone’s together in this room, everybody fought really hard to get into this room, we should all be happy that we’re together. People make choices in life. I’m very old-fashioned. I don’t particularly like what’s going on. I think the worst thing to me is it’s fractured some relationships, from player to player, golfer to golfer. Golf has never really been that way. Golf is a very traditional game. 

“But I really don’t anticipate so much animosity. It’s going to be difficult. I know some players have — it’s probably going to be tense in a few moments, I would suppose. I don’t know where this thing is going anyway, but it’s, in my mind, a little bit disruptive. As I said, I’m very much a traditionalist. Some of the players have said too — look, all these guys, regardless of what choice they made, are still going to be my friends. I applaud that. And I think that’s the way we should keep going.”

Also on Golf Central, Crenshaw was asked for his thoughts on the addition of 35 yards to the par-5 13th. Also a noted course designer, he said he played the course last week. 

And Augusta, he said, “made the right move.”  

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“I must say, I walked back there on No. 13,” Crenshaw said on Golf Central. “First of all, it’s a chore to get there because it’s way up — I think it’s 30 feet higher. But it’s way back there. The fact that it’s an elevated tee even more makes it more inviting. They did, I think, a wonderful job of calculating how far this ball is going to go. 

“Here’s the thing to me — the golfers are going to have to resist the temptation to try and turn that ball around the corner, which is the magnet. Trying to get around that corner is way out there. I think the longest players are going to have to resist that temptation. It’s all laid out there, though. And I think it’s very much a modern move. 

“You know, they do things so well there. They study and study and study and then they make it happen. When you see the hole on TV, when they put the camera back there, you’ll see how inviting that shot looks because of its altitude. But I can remember decades and decades ago that you really wanted to try and turn that ball over and get it around the corner. It’s a daring shot. That’s what Dr. [Alister] MacKenzie had in mind and Bobby Jones, when they talked about some of the par-5s there being four-and-a-halves, instead of par-5s. But the temptation will be there. Let’s see how they do it this year, but I think they made the right move, there’s no doubt.”   

Editor’s note: You can watch the entire interview with Crenshaw below.

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.