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But the caddie will forever be linked to Crenshaw.

The Texan was a young stud trying to harness his erratic game when he first hooked up with the 6-foot-5 Jackson in 1976. Their temperaments meshed perfectly _ Crenshaw, outgoing and a ball of emotions; the caddie, quiet and steady. The result was a runner-up finish and a rest-of-their-lives friendship.

This will be their 35th Masters together, the only break coming in 2000 when Jackson was battling cancer. He beat the disease and intends to keep coming back as long as his health holds and Crenshaw keeps coming back.

“We are so lucky to have come this far and shared so many things,” Crenshaw said. “I couldn’t have accomplished the things I’ve accomplished (at Augusta) without Carl.”

They worked together only one year on the Tour. Jackson had children to care for and didn’t want to be away from home that often. Besides, the local knowledge he had at Augusta wasn’t so helpful at other courses, so it has been largely a once-a-year partnership.

But, ohhhh, what a partnership it’s been.

With Jackson on the bag, Crenshaw was a perennial contender at Augusta National through the prime of his career, winning his first green jacket in 1984 and posting nine other top-10 finishes over a 16-year period.

“A lot of near misses, and some really fun times, and some painful times as well,” Crenshaw said.

Then, with his career in a downward spiral and mourning the death of mentor Harvey Penick, Crenshaw teamed with Jackson for his most memorable triumph in 1995. A tip from the caddie helped Crenshaw get his swing straightened out on the practice range. After returning from Penick’s funeral, Crenshaw put together three straight rounds in the 60s to beat Davis Love III by a single stroke.

The picture of Crenshaw _ bent over and crying his eyes out on the 18th green, Jackson having walked up from behind to put his two large hands gently on the player’s shoulders _ remains one of the most memorable in Masters history.

“It just happened,” Jackson said. “I was going somewhere else, and something changed my mind. I turned around and there was Ben, boohooing.”

These days, Jackson runs a caddie program at the Alotian Golf Club near Little Rock, Ark., hoping to lure people of color into the sport.

He was a pretty good golfer in his day, getting his handicap into the single digits. He might’ve made it to the Tour himself with the right instruction and access to the best courses, and he certainly knows of other African-Americans who were even more skilled but never got the chance to advance beyond the caddie ranks.

Times have changed, of course. Augusta National has black members. Tiger Woods has won 14 major titles. The days of being forced to use club caddies ended nearly three decades ago.

But there are still few African-Americans in the golf pipeline, something that Jackson hopes to change. The first rule of being a good caddie, he says, is being a good golfer.

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