It wasn’t pretty, but Ben Crane gets a wire-to-wire win at The FedEx St. Jude Classic without putting one birdie on his card in the final round. The 38 year-old Crane built a big enough lead during the rain-plagued event to hold off Troy Merritt in the final round at TPC Southwind, and win by one stroke on Sunday afternoon.
I was very surprised that officials were able to get this tournament at the Memphis area golf course in the books after all of the rain delays. Most of the leaders started early on Sunday morning to complete their third rounds, and finished with no re-pair as the fourth round got underway.
With many players needing to get to Pinehurst for US Open festivities and practice rounds, it became important to get the tournament completed on Sunday. The weather finally relented, and they were able to complete 72 holes and get everyone on their way.
Ben Crane’s victory at TPC Southwind pushes him to 41st in FedEx Cup standings, and to 101st in Official World Golf Rankings(OWGR). That will not be enough to earn him a trip to Pinehurst this week though.
It does give him a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour, and an all-important invitation back to Augusta next spring.
After posting 63-65 in the first two rounds, Crane was able to hang on down the stretch with three bogeys and no birdies on his scorecard. His tee to green game was horrible on Sunday, but the putter that built the lead was able to earn him his first win in almost three years.
“I (was) just so nervous, so excited, so thrilled that my game has come around,” Crane said. “I did a lot of praying, lot of thanking God for some fun days.”
“This win is different for me,” Crane, 38, said. “I want to treat it differently and I really want to enjoy it. I don’t want to act like there’s five more behind it.”
The other big story in Memphis was Phil Mickelson’s US Open prep. The five-time major champion was able to hang on for a T11 with Camilo Villegas after a two-over par 72 in the final round.
Mickelson was looking to finish off the tournament strong, and his first top ten finish of the season before going to Pinehurst. He got neither on Sunday afternoon.
Phil made only two birdies in the final round, and missed some scoring opportunities early in the fourth round that could have put him in contention at a tournament that nobody wanted to win.
“The way I drove the ball the last two rounds, I had an opportunity to shoot really low. My iron play was poor and my putting was pathetic,” said Mickelson, who finished T11.