Ben Crane has plenty to holler about this week.
As if the pending arrival of his unborn child on Monday wasn’t thrilling enough, Crane can someday show his third child the hardware he won at the McGladrey Classic Sunday in St. Simons Island, Georgia.
Crane was five shots behind leader Michael Thompson, before finishing with eight birdies in the last 11 holes to close with a 7-under 63 and reach a playoff with Webb Simpson, who missed a short par putt on the second hole to hand Crane the victory.
It was Crane’s fourth PGA TOUR win. He previously won the BellSouth Classic (2003), U.S. Bank Championship (2005) and Farmers Insurance Open (2010).
It was the 18th playoff this season, a PGA TOUR record. Crane’s five-stroke come-from-behind win was the second largest of the season, behind only Brandt Snedeker’s six-stroke comeback victory at The RBC Heritage.
For Crane, it was his first playoff appearance. Simpson is now 1-2 in playoff golf. Earlier this year, he beat Chez Reavie at the Deutsche Bank Championship and lost to Bubba Watson at the Zurich Classic. It also was Simpson’s third runner-up finish this year.
As big as the comeback win was for Crane, it was an equally disappointing finish for Thompson, who held the lead for 54 holes. Thompson missed a short birdie putt on No. 15 that would have given him the outright lead. Then he shanked his drive on No. 18 which cost him a penalty drop.
This was not unfamiliar territory for Thompson, who shared the 36-hole lead at the RBC Canadian Open only to finish T34. And he was three strokes behind halfway through the Reno-Tahoe Open before falling to T50.
Crane and Simpson finished at 15-under 265. With a win, Simpson would have been the only three-time winner this season. Still, he moves up to No. 1 on the money list and could claim the PGA TOUR Player of the Year.
Thompson finished with a 69, good enough for third place and he hangs on to his card for next year. Louis Oosthuizen shot 13-under 265 to finish fourth. Trevor Immelman had a 12-under 268 to round out the top five. It was the first top 10 in three years for Immelman, who tied the Seaside Course record with a 62 earlier in the week.
It was the last PGA TOUR event of the season for Crane, who returns home to welcome the latest addition to the family nest.
A baby and a trophy. Not a bad week for golf’s latest winner.
Simpson finished T12 at last year’s McGladrey Classic. He’s made 22 of 25 cuts this season … Rookie Bud Cauley shot 67 for a T15 to earn his card for next year. He is the sixth player to go from college and earn his tour card without having to through Q-school. Cauley has made seven of eight cuts this year … Heath Slocum, who won the inaugural McGladrey Classic last year, finished T15. He has yet to finish in the top 10 this year with one more shot next week … Scott McCarron finished T6, earning a spot in the field at Disney. He also moved to No. 145 on the money list, which would at least give him conditional status next year if he remains put … Billy Horschel won the 2009 SEC title at Sea Island. He finished T20 this week after being the 36-hole leader. He has six top-25 finishes this year … Crane’s win is the 320th on the PGA TOUR by a former Nationwide Tour player. He moved up to No. 50 on the money list and extends his fully-exempt status on the PGA TOUR through the 2013 season … Among the notable names who missed the cut were David Toms, Stewart Cink, David Duval, Zach Johnson, Justin Leonard, Davis Love III, Graeme McDowell and Vijay Singh … Get used to seeing Jason Kokrak on the PGA TOUR next season. Kokrak shot a tournament-record 20-under 264 to win the rain-soaked Miccosukee Championship, for his second Nationwide Tour victory in five weeks. He is the fourth two-time winner this season and moved to No. 4 on the money list.
Pouring It On
Last week a fan threw a hot dog towards Tiger Woods and now Greg Norman is pouring on the mustard. Norman said he would not have picked him to play in The Presidents Cup, and he doesn’t think he’ll win another major. Norman is the International team captain for the Presidents Cup, but he thinks Keegan Bradley would have been a better choice for American captain Fred Couples.
It’s been a rough go for Woods. He hasn’t won in two years, he’s battled injuries and he’s dropped out of the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time since he was a rookie in 1996.
This poor guy can’t catch a break.
But don’t worry about any hurt feelings. If anything the Shark’s biting comments should serve Tiger well. The only thing better would be to see Norman and Woods duke it out on the course one more time.