TOUR's class clown Crane 'in shock' over exciting weektext sizeOctober 16, 2011
Chris Dunham, PGATOUR.COM Producer
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- It was unpredictable, energetic and a lot of fun.
What more can be expected from a Ben Crane victory?
Crane, the TOUR's jokester who may be known as much for his amusing YouTube videos as his on-course resume, birdied eight of his final 11 holes in regulation before two playoff pars netted him a victory over Webb Simpson at The McGladrey Classic.
Crane entered Sunday's final round five shots off the pace and made the turn six back before really heating up and charging up the leaderboard.
"Is that right?" Crane asked after counting up his eight birdies following the round. "What the heck? Wow. That's as good as I can play."
The four-time PGA TOUR winner didn't even look at a leaderboard until he was on No. 16, with six birdies already on his card. You'd forgive him if he was a little distracted. After all, he and his wife Heather are expecting their third child on Monday.
The Cranes have a 1 p.m. ET appointment at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas for Heather's C-section and the delivery of their third child. A jubilant Crane was unsure whether they were having a boy or a girl, let alone what they would name the baby.
"I'm having a baby, and I do not know the answer," Crane said. "My wife and I were kind of going over some names last night, and there was a few little change-ups. I'm like, 'Yeah, I like that.' So we've got some different stuff going on. But then I was driving, bringing the car down after the playoff was over, and someone said, 'Well, you've got to name the baby -- the baby's middle name has got to be McGladrey or Frederica ... Sea Island.'"
Crane's parents had made the trip from Oregon to Dallas to prepare for Monday's birth. Combine everything going on in Texas with a lingering hip injury, which doctors will evaluate on Wednesday, and Crane said he was five minutes from withdrawing from this week's event.
"I told my wife, 'I don't even know if I should -- what am I doing here?'" Crane said. " 'You're about to go into labor,' and I'm like, should I even be playing this week? I'm like, this feels weird being away from you guys."
Crane probably felt even more surreal when he finally took a look at a leaderboard while surveying a 23-foot birdie putt on the 16th green. He was two behind leaders Simpson and Michael Thompson and had momentum on his side after already holing birdies on Nos. 14 and 15.
He felt that the putt on No. 16 would determine his tournament fate. And he drained it.
"I just said, 'Well, if I'm going to have a chance, I'm going to have to birdie two of the last three holes,' " Crane said. "Newsflash: If you don't birdie the first one and you're dormie with two holes to play and you've got to make two birdies, it gets harder... I read it perfectly and the ball went right in the middle and I was just thrilled."
Crane threw up a fist pump as the putt dropped and said that was the moment he knew that he had a chance. He willed in a 19-footer on No. 17 and, two fist pumps later, the McGladrey Classic had taken on an entirely different form with Crane tied for the lead.
"I'm in a little bit of shock, a lot of shock, disbelief," Crane said. "I don't know how those guys played, but I know I played just about as good as I can play.
Crane's form was apparent both on and off the course. In the playoff, as he hit a pin-seeking 6-iron exactly as he wanted and had a 6-foot birdie putt with a chance to win. On the second playoff hole, he rolled home a 5-footer, which gave him the victory when Simpson's par putt lipped out.
Following the round, he was likening his situation -- needing two birdies on the final three holes -- to a line from his favorite movie: "Dumb and Dumber."
"We say that to ourselves every day we play," Crane said. "Oh, I've got to make -- I've got to birdie the last three or birdie two of the last three or whatever. How many time does it actually happen? 'So you're saying there's a chance? More like one in a million ...'"
Sometimes those longshots come through and Crane went from possible tournament scratch to 2011 McGladrey Classic Champion. He now heads back to Dallas with a fourth TOUR victory, a great story and maybe a name or two to suggest to Heather for Monday's addition to the Crane family.