Slow and Steady Wins the Race

By Sports NetworkJuly 24, 2005, 4:00 pm
US Bank Championship in MilwaukeeMILWAUKEE -- Ben Crane used a chip-in eagle on Sunday to shoot a 1-under 69 and cruise to victory at the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee. He finished at 20-under-par 260 and won by four shots at Brown Deer Park Golf Course.
This was his second PGA Tour win after titling at the 2003 BellSouth Classic. Crane became the second wire-to-wire champion in tournament history, joining Ed Snead who turned the trick in 1974. Crane also matched Loren Roberts' 2000 tournament record with his 260 total.
'I felt like my game was coming around and I'm excited, but I didn't think I was going to come here and play like this wire-to-wire,' said Crane, who pocketed $684,000 for the win.
Nobody made a move at Crane all day Sunday, but Scott Verplank finished alone in second place. He shot a final-round, 1-over 71 and came in at 16-under-par 264.
Chad Campbell birdied five of his last six holes on Sunday to fire a 5-under 65. He took third place at minus-15, one shot better than Jeff Sluman, who carded a 2-under 68.
Crane began the final round with a two-shot lead over Verplank, but extended it quickly with a 5-foot birdie putt at the second. He dropped a shot at the fourth when his drive landed in the left rough, but a hole-out eagle from the side of the green at the par-5 sixth gave him a comfortable cushion.
He bogeyed the seventh, then parred his next five holes. At the 13th, Crane's drive landed in the left rough and his approach ran through the green. He chipped to 12 feet and missed the par putt, but no one in the field capitalized.
Verplank parred his final six holes and Campbell, who trailed by nine at the start of Sunday's last round, had too much ground to make up on Crane.
Crane made a couple of spectacular par saves late on his back nine. At the par-3 14th, Crane went through the green with his tee ball, but flopped his second to a foot. At the par-5 15th, he went for the green with his second shot and came to rest right of the green in trees. Crane missed the putting surface with his third, but chipped to 2 feet and converted the par putt.
Crane rolled in a 15-footer for birdie at the 17th to all but assure victory. He had a good look at birdie at the last, but it did not fall. No matter, as he finished first in the tournament in putting on the way to hoisting the trophy.
'I got the practice green on Thursday and all of a sudden, my alignment clicks,' said Crane. 'The ball started tumbling down the line and I went with it. It hung with me all week and I'm thankful for that. It was fun.'
Crane can now be more noted for winning on the PGA Tour instead of something else. He is known as one of the slowest players on tour, and at the Booz Allen Classic, his playing partner Rory Sabbatini teed off without him on the 18th hole Sunday.
This Sunday, Crane came in almost 10 minutes ahead of schedule.
'We got on the clock and I decided I needed to play the rest of the round like I was on the clock,' admitted Crane. 'I tried to keep my pace up because that's what's most fair to my playing partners. I wish I could flip a switch, but it's going to take a little bit of time.'
Steve Elkington posted a 2-under 68 and tied for fifth place with Chris Smith, who carded a 1-over 71 on Sunday. The duo came in at 13-under-par 267.
Two-time U.S. Open winner Lee Janzen fired a 5-under 65 and shared seventh with Mark Calcavecchia, who posted a 69 in the final round. They were knotted at minus-12.
Kenny Perry struggled to a 3-over 73 on Sunday and shared ninth with Brad Faxon (68), Dean Wilson (68), Glen Day (66) and John Huston (69). The group was tied at 11-under-par 269.
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.