2024 Masters Champions Dinner highlights Spaniard Jon Rahm

2024 Masters Champions Dinner highlights Spaniard Jon Rahm

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AUGUSTA, Ga. — The Champions Dinner tipped its hat to Spain on Tuesday evening.

On what would’ve been the 67th birthday of Seve Ballesteros, the table of 33 champions welcomed its newest member — Jon Rahm — before flooding the room with memories of Augusta’s first European victor.

“It was a great night; an emotional night,” said Larry Mize, the 1987 winner. “Ben (Crenshaw) made sure that tonight was all about Jon, Seve and Jackie Burke.”

Rahm sat at the head of the table, side-by-side with Ben Crenshaw, marking the first time a LIV golfer played host to the dinner.

And even though the narrative of PGA Tour vs. LIV Golf remains heated to some, for one night, the sides united.

“We’re a fraternity,” said Crenshaw, who emcees the annual supper.

Added Charles Coody: “It couldn’t have been more congenial. Even Tom Watson at the very end of dinner, he stood from his chair and said how happy he was to see the camaraderie within our group. It was a wonderful night.”

Crenshaw, in his Texas drawl, opened the evening by welcoming Rahm to the Masters Club; he then gifted the Spaniard an inscribed gold locket in the form of the Club emblem.

Two years ago, at the 2022 Champions Dinner, Hideki Matsuyama stunned the table by reciting a speech in English, prompting Gary Player to toast in Japanese.

When asked earlier in the week about congratulating Jon Rahm in Spanish, Ben Crenshaw reflected on his Austin High School diploma.

“I took French,” said Crenshaw, laughing.

2023 Masters

A Masters pin flag blows at the practice facility during the second round of the 2023 Masters. (Photo: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Network)

From there, stories immersed the room about Seve.

Bernhard Langer orated a tale about the 1983 Ryder Cup at Palm Beach Gardens when Ballesteros struck a 3-wood out of a bunker from 230 yards onto the green.

Langer told the table that from the lie Seve had, no golfer — aside from Ballesteros — would’ve cleared the lip with anything less than a six iron.

Crenshaw also mentioned the passing of 1956 Masters Champion Jackie Burke.

Burke, who shared a Champions locker with Tiger Woods, died on Jan. 19, 10 days before his 101st birthday.

“God put me down here for a long spell,” Burke said on his 100th birthday.

Thirty-three past champions attended the dinner. The only two absent were Angel Cabrera and Sandy Lyle.

According to Mize, Lyle’s wife, Jolanda, was having inner ear problems, and the 1988 Masters winner elected to remain home.

“Jolanda tried to get Sandy to come,” Mize said. “But he didn’t want to come without her.”

As defending champ, Rahm selected the menu for Tuesday evening, with his spread giving homage to Spain’s Basque region.

The meal began with six options for tapas and pintxos, Spanish for starters, before offering two main courses: Chuleton a la Parrilla, a ribeye with Piquillo peppers, or Rodaballo al Pil-Pil, a fish dish with white asparagus.

José María Olazábal chose the fish. Craig Stadler ordered red meat.

Coody picked fish.

“I didn’t want to venture too far into no-man’s land,” Coody said.

According to multiple past winners, similar to last year, Phil Mickelson remained quiet, and despite being close to Rahm, he elected not to give a toast.

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