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Crenshaw's faith pays off

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Thursday, Oct. 14
Crenshaw won't return as Ryder Cup captain

Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas -- After the exhausting and emotional rally for the ages, U.S. Ryder Cup captain Ben Crenshaw said Tuesday he wouldn't lead the team again.

 Ben Crenshaw
Ben Crenshaw played on four Ryder Cup teams before his winning performance as captain this year.

Leading the United States to victory over Europe was a dream come true for Crenshaw, a golf historian and former Masters champion. But the preparation, controversy before the tournament and three days of intense golf that sparked a war of words over the behavior of the American spectators took a toll.

Crenshaw said the next captain will be selected before the end of the year. The United States will play the Europeans for the Cup again in 2001.

"I unequivocally can say no. I can't do this. Look at me, I'm emaciated," Crenshaw said. "It took two years of my life. It seems like I've been on the telephone for a year."

Not that he didn't enjoy the experience.

"I will carry to my grave those cheers around the golf course," Crenshaw said. "This is a great achievement."

While his players won the matches, Crenshaw determined the lineups. Sending some of his strongest players onto the course early Sunday turned the tide for the Americans, whose early victories in singles matches applied pressure on the Europeans.

"The only way we do this was to start a chain reaction. Never before have I seen such a fighting spirit. The cheers never stopped the whole day," Crenshaw said.

Crenshaw apologized again for the wild scene that erupted after Justin Leonard's 45-foot birdie putt on No. 17 in his match against Spain's Jose Maria Olazabal. The putt eventually decided the outcome.

The Europeans have said the jubilation disrupted Olazabal, who still had a birdie attempt. He missed.

"Justin tried as hard as he could to calm things. It was something we could not contain," Crenshaw said.

Crenshaw said he never lost faith in his team, even when it faced a 10-6 deficit that seemed insurmountable.

"It was something we had to fight and claw for. It was disheartening because they knew it had never been done before. They never got down," Crenshaw said.

The team gave Crenshaw a signed replica of the Ryder Cup. He took it to show-and-tell Tuesday at his two daughters' middle and elementary schools.

"It will always be with me," he said.

That Leonard made his crucial putt on No. 17, the same hole where Francis Ouimet clinched the 1913 U.S. Open over British stalwarts Ted Ray and Harry Vardon, was mystical, Crenshaw said.

"I truly believe there's an aura across the 17th green," Crenshaw said. "When you see a putt of that diabolical nature go in, that's a little spooky."

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