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Golf News: - Posted 23rd October 1997

'Gentle Ben' Crenshaw is next US Ryder Cup team captain

New York, N.Y. - Ben Crenshaw has been chosen to be next captain of the US Ryder Cup team when the matches take place iin 1999 at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.

The announcement was made by PGA of America president Ken Lindsay just three weeks after the United States failed for the fifth time in seven attempts to take the Ryder Cup home, losing to Europe 14-13 in Spain last month.

"An event of this nature requires a strong and experienced leader," Lindsay said. "His attention to detail makes him an ideal leader for the U.S. Ryder Cup team."

The choice of Crenshaw, 45, who has played in four Ryder Cup matches, made sense in that he is a veteran player with Ryder Cup experience. He also is active on the PGA Tour and will be in good position to evaluate players.

Crenshaw was a surprise, however, in that it was assumed after the criticism of Tom Kite after Valderrama that the PGA of America would select a stern, get-tough captain. Crenshaw, a shy historian known as "Gentle Ben," hardly fits that image.

"It would be an understatement to say what an honor this has been today," Crenshaw said. "I'm so happy that I've been trusted to not only captain this team, but I could not imagine a better venue."

Among those considered were Curtis Strange, who won the 1988 U.S. Open in Brookline, two-time PGA Championship winner Larry Nelson and Hale Irwin, who has won nine times on the Senior PGA Tour this year.

Tom Kite was also considered a contender.

Crenshaw played in the Ryder Cup in 1981, '83, '87 and '95, winning three matches, losing eight and halving one. He won the Masters in 1984 and repeated the feat in 1995 with one of the most moving performances in the tournament's history, winning just days after serving as pall bearer for his longtime teacher, Harvey Penick.

Crenshaw had surgery in September to remove a bone fragment in his right foot which he injured about 20 years ago when he kicked an oil drum in frustration at the Colonial tournament. Pain has prevented him from pushing off his right foot, which restricted his swing. Doctors also removed a bone spur from the top of the toe, and said the prognosis for recovery is good.