Big Play Unheralded Ben Crane displayed nerves of steel down the stretch, especially on the brilliant peeler shot he played on the 16th hole

April 13, 2003

While major championship winners Lee Janzen and Bob Tway crumbled
during the final round of the BellSouth, first-time Tour winner
Ben Crane hit one spectacular shot after another on his way to a
nine-under-par 63. Crane's most impressive play was his nine-iron
on the TPC at Sugarloaf's 163-yard 16th hole. Tied at 13 under
with Tway, who was two groups behind him, Crane made a bold
decision to hit a peeler (my term for a high, soft cut shot) at
the flagstick (above), even though the pin was tucked in the far
right corner of the green and a 12-mph wind was blowing from left
to right. Most of the players who had gone for this sucker pin at
the tricky little par-3 had either drilled the ball over the
green or short-sided themselves into a swale. In his two
slow-motion practice swings, Crane dialed in the precise
technique required for a peeler by delaying the release of his
wrists at impact and then holding his finish so that the butt end
of the shaft points away from the target. Crane then executed
flawlessly, sending his ball over the top of the flag to 15 feet,
then burying the putt to surge into the lead.

THREE COLOR PHOTOS: COURTESY OF NBC (TOP LEFT) COLOR PHOTO: ANDREW GOMBERT T.J. Tomasi teaches at Lyman Orchards Golf Club in Middlefield, Conn., and is one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers. TWO COLOR PHOTOS: ANDREW GOMBERT
COLOR PHOTO: ANDREW GOMBERT THE PEELER COLOR PHOTO: ANDREW GOMBERT NORMAL SWING

THE TIP

To play a Peeler, aim a little left of the target and take a
slightly open stance. The key to pulling off the shot is to
rotate the upper body through impact while barely turning over
the forearms. This delayed release keeps the hands ahead of the
ball and the club face a little open at impact (inset, above),
creating a soft fade. At the finish, the butt end of the shaft
should point away from the target line, the opposite of a regular
shot (below), in which the forearms and hands are released at
impact and the butt end is aimed at the target.

OUR TOP TEACHER SAYS...

"Most amateurs are baffled by the outcry for equipment
limitations on Tour players, which is fueled by the belief that
the game has become too easy. Weekend golfers still think the
sport is nearly impossible, and they want all the help they can
get."

"Hank Kuehne showed signs of life at the BellSouth, earning
the first top 10 of his Tour career, but to fulfill his awesome
potential he must get over his obsession with distance and favor
control."

"Lots of women would love to play on the PGA Tour, but the
rank-and-file Tour pros will revolt if another woman gets a
sponsor's exemption, thereby bumping one of them out of the
field. Here's how I'd solve the problem: The Tour should
designate two additional spots for women at every tournament and
have open qualifying to fill them."

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)