Crane rallies, tops Simpson in playoff

By Doug FergusonOctober 16, 2011, 8:23 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Ben Crane knew he was going home Monday to be with his wife for the birth of their third child. He had no reason to believe he would be bringing The McGladrey Classic trophy with him.
 
Seven shots behind with 11 holes to play, Crane ran off seven birdies to close with a 7-under 63, and then he won the sudden-death playoff when Webb Simpson missed a short par putt on the second extra hole Sunday.
 
Crane nearly holed his approach on the 14th to start a string of four straight birdies. He had a long two-putt on the par-5 15th, followed by a pair of birdie putts from about 20 feet.
 
Simpson closed with a 66, despite not making a birdie over his last seven holes.
 
They finished at 15-under 265 and extended the PGA Tour's record with the 18th playoff this year. It looked as if it might last more than two holes when Crane made a 5-foot comeback putt for par, and Simpson had a par putt just over 3 feet. But it caught the right lip and spun away, giving Crane his first win of the year.
 
Simpson was trying to become the only three-time winner on Tour this season, which might have made him a favorite in the wide-open race for PGA Tour player of the year. The consolation could be the money, which is the reason Simpson came to Sea Island in the first place.
 
With his runner-up finish, Simpson moved to the top of the money list by $363,029 over Luke Donald, the No. 1 player in the world ranking. Both players have entered the season-ending tournament next week in Disney, though Donald's task became a lot more difficult.
 
At the very least, Donald would have to finish no worse than a two-way for second to have any chance to move past Simpson and resume his bid to become the first player to win money titles on the PGA Tour and European Tour. Donald already has a comfortable lead in Europe.
 
'Finishing second is going to make it a lot harder for Luke,' Simpson said. 'But I'm sure he's going to play well. He's played well most every week this year. I still wouldn't be surprised if I have a little work to do next week.'
 
Crane was playing his final PGA Tour event of the year. His wife, Heather, is home in the Dallas area and they arranged for the birth to be on Monday. He had an evening flight out of Jacksonville, Fla., but those plans changed quickly.
 
Michael Thompson, the 54-hole leader, ran off three straight birdies on the front nine to build a three-shot lead. Crane, who teed off nearly an hour earlier, was making only pars and trailed by as many as seven shots.
 
Then came two bursts of four straight birdies, the first one starting on the eighth hole. When his 20-foot birdie dropped on the 17th, Crane excitedly pumped his fist, knowing that he suddenly had a chance at a most unlikely win.
 
Simpson missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the 13th and failed to take advantage on the par-5 15th.
 
Thompson also missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the 15th that would have given him the outright lead, and then his nerves started to show with errant tee shots. He got away with one on the 16th, but not on the final hole, when his tee shot went into the hazard and cost him a penalty drop.
 
'All I think about on those tee shots is just hit in the middle of the club face,' Thompson said. 'And for one reason, that one tee shot I didn't. And It got me.'
 
The small consolation for the 25-year-old rookie, who closed with a 69, was a third-place finish that assures him keeping his card for next year.
 
Also locking up his card was Bud Cauley, the 21-year-old who left Alabama after his junior season to turn pro. Cauley shot 67 and tied for 15th to earn $64,000, and now is the equivalent of No. 112 on the money list.
 
He is only the sixth player to go from college and earn his Tour card without having to through Q-school, and Cauley joins Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson as the only players to accomplish that feat in eight starts or fewer.
 
'It's very exciting for me,' Cauley said. 'I can't wait to come out here and play all year out here.'
 
A pair of major champions had their best finish of the year. Louis Oosthuizen, who won at St. Andrews last summer, was one shot out of the lead until a bogey on the 18th. He closed with a 66 to finish fourth. Former Masters champion Trevor Immelman, slowed the last two years by a wrist injury that eventually required surgery, had a 69 and finished finish.
 
It was Immelman's first top 10 since 2008.
 
Crane won for the fourth time in his career, and heads home to Dallas with a bigger celebration than he had planned.
 
DIVOTS: Scott McCarron shot a 68 to tie for sixth, earning a spot in the field next week at Disney. He also moved to No. 145 on the money list, which would at least give him conditional status next year if he stays there. ... Going into the final tournament, James Driscoll is at No. 125 on the money list by $6,287 over Bill Lunde, who already is exempt next year. Billy Mayfair, who won Q-school last year, is at No. 127 by $12,367.

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Football coach hates golf: Don't need practice swearing

By Jason CrookApril 20, 2018, 10:15 pm

Some football coaches are a little more talkative than others. On one side of the spectrum, there's Bill Belichick. On the other sits Washington State football coach Mike Leach.

Leach always delivers the goods, and when asked recently if he liked golf, he didn't hold back:

As wrong as the 57-year-old is on the topic (golf is awesome), the man makes some hilarious points:

• “It’s boring. I don’t care where that ball goes.”

• "Golfers are always practicing their swing. But you know what I never did? I never practice fishing in my living room.”

• "They'll line up over the ball and they'll say they're going to do something that you can't do with a sniper rifle and a scope, but they're going to do it with a stick and a ball."

• “Golf’s pretty much for people that don’t swear effectively enough or need practice. And so there are people that need golf, and I don’t think I do.”

So in conclusion, it's confirmed: Mike Leach - not a golf guy.

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Quiros takes 1-shot lead in Morocco

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 8:22 pm

RABAT, Morocco - Alvaro Quiros shot a solid 2-under 70 in windy conditions to push into a one-shot lead after two rounds of the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco on Friday.

Quiros fought the elements, carding seven birdies and five bogeys to move to 7 under overall and take the outright lead at the halfway point of the European Tour event.

The Spaniard was one clear of Andrew Dodt, who moved into contention with a 4-under 68 at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam course. Dodt dropped two shots in his first six holes but the Australian recovered from that shaky start to collect four birdies and an eagle.


Full-field scores from the Trophee Hassan II


Erik van Rooyen of South Africa was another shot back in third on 5 under after his 71.

Bradley Dredge of Wales, who shared the first-round lead with Quiros, slipped off the pace with a 1-over 73. He's tied for fourth with Austin Connelly of Canada (71), 4 under par and three shots behind Quiros.

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Bogey-free Moore shares Valero lead

By Will GrayApril 20, 2018, 8:20 pm

Amid the swirling winds on a difficult track at the Valero Texas Open, Ryan Moore has yet to blink.

Moore was one of only two players among the 156-man field to go bogey-free during the opening round at TPC San Antonio, and he's now the only player still boasting a clean scorecard after a second-round 67 that included five birdies and the rest pars. At 9 under, the veteran shares the lead with Zach Johnson and was three shots clear of any other player at the end of the morning wave.

"Really, around this golf course what matters is the right distance," Moore told reporters. "You can get in some pretty tough spots if you're long and short. So I kind of hit it the right distance all day, gave myself plenty of good birdie opportunities and didn't stress myself out too much with too many up-and-downs."

While many players struggle to find a true offseason, Moore took nearly three months off between starts at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba and Waste Management Phoenix Open. During that time he shed nearly 20 pounds thanks to changes to his diet and teamed up with a new swing coach, Drew Steckel, in December.

The results have been solid if not spectacular, as Moore tied for fifth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and finished T-16 last week at the RBC Heritage.

"It's been solid golf, especially the last few weeks. I haven't got a ton out of it," Moore said. "The putter just wasn't there. So this week, just got a little more comfortable with the putter and knocked a few putts in that kind of matter early in my rounds, and it's going in. That's kind of what's been missing lately."

Moore had a breakthrough season in 2016 that included his victory at the John Deere Classic and spot on the Ryder Cup team, but he hasn't sniffed career win No. 6 since a T-3 finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions 16 months ago. Should he keep a clean card this weekend in San Antonio, his chances to end that victory drought appear bright.

"I played some really nice golf yesterday, I just controlled the ball nicely all the way around and was bogey-free yesterday, so thought, 'Let's go try and do that again,'" Moore said. "So to play in tough, windy conditions, to go bogey-free (again), it was some good solid golf."

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Former champ Z. Johnson surges at Valero

By Will GrayApril 20, 2018, 7:31 pm

Midway through his opening round at the Valero Texas Open, Zach Johnson appeared far closer to a missed cut than a spot on the leaderboard.

Johnson initially struggled in the winds at TPC San Antonio, playing his first 13 holes in 3 over. But he eagled No. 14 and closed with three more birdies to post a 2-under 70, then went unconscious during a second-round 65 where he made six birdies over his first 10 holes.

It added up to a 9-under total at the halfway point, and instead of packing his bags the two-time major champ now shares the lead with Ryan Moore.

"You just never know. That's the beauty of this game," Johnson told reporters. "I didn't have anything going putting-wise. I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. Shoot, I made some good pars all while being 3 over. You just never know."

Johnson won this event in both 2008 and 2009, but that was when it was held across town at La Cantera Golf Club. Since the switch to TPC San Antonio in 2010, he has only one top-10 finish and two missed cuts, including last year's early exit with consecutive rounds of 74.

But Friday he played like a man unaware of the venue shift, with four straight birdies on Nos. 12-15 and a hole-out eagle from the greenside bunker on the par-4 fifth hole. His closing bogey on No. 9 was his first dropped shot in the last 25 holes.

"The confidence is there, and when you can step on the tee with this kind of wind, you trust your clubs and trust your ball, that's pretty important," Johnson said. "I felt good. It was hard, I'm not going to deny that. That was one of the better 27-hole stretches that I've had in a long time."

Johnson's 65 was his first sub-70 score since an opening-round 69 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a span of 12 stroke-play rounds. The veteran has made every cut in 11 starts this season, but his T-8 finish at the RSM Classic in November remains his only top-10 finish.

"I felt really good coming into the week," Johnson said. "Confidence was there, it just wasn't showing up on the scorecard."