Catch of The Day
Ben Crane reeled in his first Tour win with a stunning surge on
This is an article from the April 14, 2003 issue
On the eve of the final round of last week's BellSouth Classic,
Ben Crane did a little twilight fishing in the expansive pond
fronting the 18th green at the TPC at Sugarloaf in Duluth, Ga.
Crane, a low-key 27-year-old sophomore on the PGA Tour, was
looking to unwind after a scintillating 64 earlier on Saturday.
Asked if he had any nibbles, Crane said, "Oh, yeah, man. I caught
The next day he reeled in a much bigger prize--his first Tour
victory. Crane's performance was more outsized than a tale of
the-big-one-that-got-away. Starting six shots back on Sunday,
Crane shot a 29 on the final nine on his way to a closing 63,
including a rousing eagle on the 72nd hole that was set up by a
357-yard clout off the tee. He won by four strokes, after having
made the cut by only a shot. "I'm a little numb," Crane said
following the victory. He added one more thought. "I am so
Crane lists Bible study under Special Interests in the Tour
guide, and the first call he made following the final round was
to his pastor. He attends the Wednesday night prayer meetings
held at every Tour stop, and it is there that he has bonded with
veterans Lee Janzen and Steve Jones. Janzen, winless since his
second U.S. Open victory, in 1998, held a two-stroke lead heading
into the final round, but after putting out a disappointing 77 he
immediately went looking behind the 18th green for his study buddy.
"Where's the domed one?" he asked Crane's wife, Heather, a nod to
her husband's prematurely bald noggin. When Janzen found Crane,
he hugged him like a brother and said, according to Crane, "You
shot 64-63 on the weekend--I don't care who it is, you're going
to kick anyone's tush when you do that."
Crane's victory may have been sparked, in part, by a different
sort of encouragement he'd gotten at a Wednesday night session.
Says Jones, "It's funny, only a week ago we were talking about
what it takes to win out here, and he asked me, 'How many
tournaments have you won?' I told him eight. He looked at me
like, 'You've got to be kidding me. You've won eight
tournaments?' I knew he was thinking, If Steve Jones has won
eight, I know I can win too."
In a day full of highlights, Crane's biggest moment on Sunday
might have been a 12-footer that he drained for bogey on the 9th
hole to save his round. He went on to birdie 10, 11, 13, 15 and
16, the last of which gave Crane his first lead over Bob Tway,
whose four-stroke cushion at the turn vanished with alarming
speed. Crane was leading by two when he arrived at the 576-yard,
par-5 18th, which plunges steeply downhill. Crane, all 5'10" and
165 pounds of him, likes to play a power game, and he fearlessly
pulled his driver, leaving little margin for error. "I was in the
clubhouse watching on TV, and when I saw that driver, I yelled,
'Oh, shoot!'" says Jones. Oh, ye of little faith. Fueled by
adrenaline, Crane pounded his drive down the fairway, nearly to
the bottom of the hill. (That the tees had been moved up helped,
too.) Only 190 yards from the green, it no longer made sense to
lay up short of the water, and he whistled a seven-iron to 20
feet, then coolly sank the putt, one last perfect roll in a
weekend of great putting.
In years past Crane, who lives in Keller, Texas, would have been
off to Augusta for the Masters, but the rule that gave Tour
winners an automatic invitation was amended in 1999. So this
promising young talent instead has a week off, and he wasted no
time in starting his vacation. On Sunday evening, after he had
collected an oversized cardboard check for $720,000, Crane was
headed back to the 18th hole, and not to relive his climactic
eagle. "We actually changed our flight to tomorrow night," he
said, "so I can go back out there tonight and fish."
Annika Sorenstam may get all the ink, but Se Ri Pak is going to
have a better season. Sorenstam eked out a win last week but has
looked shaky so far this year, while Pak is only getting better.
THE NEW MATH
Miguel Angel Jimenez's hairstyle
(CARLOS VALDERRAMA + BEN WALLACE + [HARPO MARX])x CARROT TOP =
[MIGUEL ANGEL JIMENEZ]
Hammerin' Hank Kuehne
Hank Kuehne was minutes away from teeing it up in the Monday
qualifier for the BellSouth Classic when his cellphone rang. It
was a tournament official offering a sponsor's exemption that had
been freed up by a handful of last-minute withdrawals. Kuehne
took advantage of the gift, tying for third and burnishing his
reputation as one of the brawniest sluggers in the game. During a
third-round 67 he blasted a 371-yard drive on the 7th hole and
uncorked a 369-yarder at number 10. Kuehne, the 1998 U.S. Amateur
champion, also showed a little finesse, acing the 131-yard 2nd
hole with a wedge.
Steve Stricker was walking on the edge of the stream on
Sugarloaf's 12th hole last Thursday when a rock gave way
underfoot. Stricker lost his balance and stumbled and flailed
along the bank, trying futilely to regain his balance before
splashing into the creek, muddying one of his pant legs. After
making sure that Stricker was O.K., playing partner Lee Janzen
told him, "With that extra effort, I think you picked up the
Ben Crane's BellSouth victory was a good one for stat junkies.
His weekend 127 (64-63) has been bettered only twice since 1970
by PGA Tour winners: Ron Streck's 125 (63-62) at the 1978 Texas
Open and John Cook's 125 (62-63) at the '97 Hope. Also, after
opening 72-73, Crane was idling in 60th place. Since 1990 only
Jose Maria Olazabal has started a third round in worse position
and gone on to win. (Ollie was 69th through 36 holes at the 2002
Buick Invitational.) Want more? Crane's 63 on Sunday was his
career-low round on Tour. Since 1970 only 15 other players have
won by shooting a personal-best of 63 or lower in a final round.
The list includes David Duval (59, '99 Hope), Johnny Miller (61,
'75 Tucson), Greg Norman (62, '90 Doral) and Davis Love III (62,
Quotations from The Chairman
Augusta National has had only five chairmen in its 70-year
history, and although these taciturn leaders have largely stayed
out of the public eye, each has loosed a couple of memorable
quotes. Below, match the chairman with his famous zinger.
1. "I don't visualize us having the Pizza Hut Masters."
2. "I appreciate what Augusta National stands for. This may
be the last place in America trying to preserve the traditions of
the game of golf."
3. "Ordinarily, I would not want to be classified as being
benevolent, and I also do not wish to be called a dictator."
4. "There may well come a day when women will be invited to
join our membership, but that timetable will be ours and not at
the point of a bayonet."
5. "There will never be another Cliff Roberts. Anyone who
tries to emulate Cliff Roberts will be making a terrible
6. "Cliff Roberts is our Bible."
7. "Have you noticed when TV comes on, there's a mass exodus
of people? There'd be nothing worse than to hold this golf
tournament and have nobody show up."
8. "Seve, I'm sure a lot of people at home are wondering:
Just how tall are you?"
9. "Well, that was a damn dumb question, and I don't answer
10. "Want to cut for it?" (Said to another member's guest who
was bragging about his wealth during a card game.)
1. c; 2. b; 3. a; 4. e; 5. b; 6. d; 7. d; 8. c; 9. a; 10. d.
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