Crane seals victory in playoff

2011-10-17 06:55
Ben Crane (Getty Images)

St. Simons Island - Ben Crane came from seven shots behind before clinching his fourth PGA Tour title with a stunning playoff victory over fellow American Webb Simpson for the McGladrey Classic at St Simons Island in Georgia on Sunday.

Crane narrowly missed a 22-foot birdie putt at the second extra hole, the par-three 17th, but moments later he sealed the win when Simpson lipped out with his par putt from inside four feet.

The duo had finished the 72 regulation holes at 15-under-par 265, Simpson closing with a four-under 66 and Crane firing a sizzling eight-birdie 63.

"This week I had a great sense of perspective and peace out there," a beaming Crane, whose wife Heather is expecting their third child on Monday, told reporters.

"The hole opened up for me and it was a great day," he added, referring to his late run of birdies. "I'm just thrilled."

Simpson's runner-up finish was good enough for him to overtake British world number one Luke Donald at the top of the 2011 PGA Tour money list with just one event remaining.

He leads Donald by $363,029 and both are scheduled to compete in next week's season-ending Disney Classic at Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Crane had the most to celebrate at the breezy Seaside Course on Sunday, though, as he came from seven shots behind with 11 holes remaining in the final round.

Wielding a red-hot putter, the 35-year-old birdied the eighth and ninth to reach the turn in two-under 33 and picked up further shots at the 10th, 11th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th, sinking a 20-footer, to draw level at the top.

"I was just riding a hot putter, making putts there at 10, 11, and then making birdies at 14 and 15," said Crane. "I looked up on the 16th green and I'm like, 'Wow, I'm two back.'

"I had an opportunity to make birdie there and ran one in. The adrenalin went through me here on 17 green when I made it in regulation for birdie. It was a fun day."

Simpson, who trailed Donald by $68,971 in the money list at the start of the week, had been bidding for his third PGA Tour victory in just six starts.

"It's unfortunate the way it ended but it was a good week overall," he said. "I learned a lot. I'm just really happy for my good friend Ben. He played so well all day."

Overnight leader and PGA Tour rookie Michael Thompson, who had led by three shots with nine holes to play, bogeyed the last for a 69 and had to settle for third place at 14-under.

South African Louis Oosthuizen, who romped to a seven-stroke victory in last year's British Open, was a further stroke back after closing with a 66, while compatriot, Trevor Immelman finished a shot back on a total of 268 shots.

LEADING FINAL-ROUND SCORES (x-won at 2nd playoff hole, USA unless noted):

265 - x-Ben Crane 65-70-67-63, Webb Simpson 63-67-69-66

266 - Michael Thompson 65-65-67-69

267 - Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 65-67-69-66

268 - Trevor Immelman (RSA) 66-71-62-69

270 - Angel Cabrera (ARG) 65-70-68-67, Scott McCarron 64-70-68-68, Nick O'Hern (AUS) 65-67-69-69, Jeff Overton 66-69-66-69, Kevin Streelman 66-70-66-68

271 - Kris Blanks 67-68-66-70, Jim Furyk 67-68-69-67, Bryce Molder 67-68-68-68, D.J. Trahan 65-71-68-67

272 - Bud Cauley 68-68-70-66, Lucas Glover 68-68-68-68, David Mathis 69-69-66-68, Sean O'Hair 71-66-66-69, Heath Slocum 70-66-70-66

273 - Jerry Kelly 68 67 71 67, Carl Pettersson (Sweden) 69 70 68 66, Billy Mayfair 67 72 67 67, Matt Kuchar 70 68 67 68, Michael Bradley 68 69 67 69, Billy Horschel 64 64 70 75

274 - Alexandre Rocha (Brazil) 67 72 70 65, Colt Knost 66 71 70 67, Michael Letzig 67 72 67 68, Matt McQuillan (Canada) 69 68 68 69, Cameron Tringale 65 73 67 69, Kevin Kisner 70 67 67 70 

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