Crane Seeking Wire-To-Wire Win


US Bank Championship in MilwaukeeMILWAUKEE -- Ben Crane fired a 6-under 64 Saturday to maintain the lead at the U.S. Bank Championship -- his first career lead after 54 holes.
Crane stands at 19-under-par 191 through three rounds, two strokes clear of Scott Verplank at soggy Brown Deer Park Golf Course.
His 191 is the lowest 54-hole total on the PGA Tour in 2005, besting Kenny Perry's 192 in his victory at the Bank of America Colonial. The 191 total is also one shy of the tournament record of 20-under-par 190, established by Jeff Sluman when he won in 2002.
Crane stumbled to a pair of bogeys Saturday -- his first of the tournament -- but he mixed in eight birdies to hold the lead for the third straight round. He is in position to become just the second wire-to-wire winner of this event if he can nail down his second career PGA Tour victory Sunday.
Ed Snead was the only other wire-to-wire winner of the tournament, turning the trick in 1974 at Tuckaway Country Club, where he beat runner-up Grier Jones by four strokes.
Third-round play was suspended for more than 3 1/2 hours Saturday as severe weather settled in on the Milwaukee area around 4:30 p.m. (ET), adding another soggy day to a tournament that has been besieged by bad weather.
The second round wasn't completed until early in the morning -- a logjam created by Thursday's bad weather and the eventual suspension of the first round. The cut was set at minus-2 with 77 players making it to the third round.
Perry and Chris Smith share third place at 14-under-par 196, with Sluman two strokes further back at minus-12. A group of seven golfers sit one stroke behind that at 11 under.
Sluman was among those who finished their second round in the morning. After play was suspended as he waited to tee off on his final hole Friday, Sluman woke up early to play one hole and then waited almost five hours before beginning his third round.
That was something that Crane, who hurried to finish his round Friday, hasn't had to worry about. The 29-year-old has completed all three of his rounds during their scheduled days.
After a birdie at the par-3 third, Crane stumbled to his first bogey of the tournament at No. 4. But he collected three more birdies of the next five holes to make the turn at 16 under.
Crane dropped a stroke with a bogey at the par-3 11th, briefly falling to 15 under before collecting a birdie and a par to get back to 16 under by the time play was suspended.
After the nearly four-hour stoppage, Crane continued his assault on the course. Consecutive birdies at the 15th and 16th moved him to 18 under, and after a par at No. 17, he dropped in his eighth birdie of the round at the par-5 18th.
Verplank, who is seeking his first PGA Tour win since the 2001 Bell Canadian Open, stumbled to a bogey on his first hole of the third round. That dropped him to 10-under, but the 41-year-old collected birdies on four of the next eight holes to make the turn at 14 under.
After collecting a par at the 10th, Verplank birdied Nos. 11 and 12 to tie Crane for the lead as the bad weather approached. He gained one more shot after the delay with a birdie at the par-5 18th -- his seventh birdie of the day, which gave him his second 64 of the tournament.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - US Bank Championship
  • Full Coverage - US Bank Championship in Milwaukee