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Crenshaw, fans celebrate caddie's 50th Masters

Carrying on a tradition

Friday, April 08, 2011


Ben Crenshaw and Carl Jackson didn't exchange any words on the first tee about what was going to happen Thursday morning. They didn't have to.

Caddie Carl Jackson removes the flag from the hole on the fourth green as Ben Crenshaw putts during Thursday's opening round at Augusta National. This is the 50th Masters for Jackson and the 35th time he has caddied for Crenshaw, a two-time champion. (Andrew Davis Tucker/Special)

"We know what it is," Crenshaw said.

That would be the 64-year-old Jackson's record-extending 50th Masters Tournament as a caddie. Jackson caddied his first Masters in 1961 at age 14 for Billy Burke and has missed just one year -- 2000 -- when he was recovering from cancer.

This is his 35th year on Crenshaw's bag.

"He's spilled a lot of blood for me," Crenshaw said.

The relationship goes much deeper than player and caddie. They did something recently to commemorate Jackson's 50th Masters, but neither will talk about it.

"It's between he and I," Crenshaw said.

Their time together at the Masters includes victories in 1984 and 1995.

"I feel fortunate to have had him with me all these years," Crenshaw said. "We can certainly look back and see some very, very nice times and some fun tournaments we didn't win but were in the fray. We were fortunate to win twice."

Said Jackson: "It's been a pleasure to watch him putt these greens. No matter the outcome, he's always got a chance with the putter. It makes me look good."

One of Jackson's favorite moments Thursday was the hugs he got from Crenshaw's wife, Julie, and one of their daughters, Katherine.

The gallery was appreciative of his accomplishment, Jackson said, but he said he heard more comments during the less formal practice rounds.

"They were very appreciative for making it to 50," he said. "A lot of people showed their respect."

The quiet gallery Thursday also might have had something to do with the way Crenshaw was playing. He had 78.

"He did a great job today," Crenshaw said of Jackson. "His player didn't."

"(Caddying in 50 Masters) means I did more than just be a caddie," Jackson said. "I have not just been here just waiting to carry a golf bag."

Jackson appreciates that Crenshaw has always allowed him to speak his mind.

"You've got to have nerves," Jackson said. "I'm not afraid to say what I think. If I'm wrong, I'm hurting more than he is."

Said Crenshaw: "He ain't wrong."

The applause Crenshaw received Thursday was for Jackson, he believed.

"It should all be for him," he said. "We've spent most of our lives here. It's a nice word he used: pleasure: It's a pleasure to be together around here. I'm convinced I've had the best by far."

Brandt Snedeker, who played a practice round with Crenshaw on Wednesday, called Jackson a "living legend."

"He's seen a lot of shots and a lot of good shots and bad shots around here, so its fun to be out with him," Snedeker said. "It's always cool to see him and Ben out there playing in the Masters."

Crenshaw, who hasn't made the cut at Augusta National Golf Club since 2007, wouldn't say how many more years he will play in the Masters. As a former champion, the 59-year-old has a lifetime invitation.

"We'll have to talk about it," he said.

When Crenshaw calls it a day at the Masters, so will Jackson, who started at the course as an Augusta National caddie when he was 13 in 1960 and worked there until 1973.

"I'm the last of the old boys," Jackson said. "We might have a few more around, like Edward White. There's not many left. I guess when I'm gone, that's the end of that tradition."

Reach David Westin at (706) 823-3224 or david.westin@augustachronicle.com.

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