Troy Matteson has taken sole possession of the first-round lead at the John Deere Classic from Ricky Barnes while Ben Crane has tied the first-round pacesetter.
A birdie at the fifth hole, Mattesson's 14th of the day, lifted him to 8 under and one in front of Barnes. Crane has had a similarly productive day -- making birdies in bunches, twice getting two straight and making three in a row as he made the turn.
Crane’s best finish this year is solo second at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, one of three top-10s in his first four starts to the season. He is coming off a tie for 22nd at the AT&T National in his last start.
Harris English rolled in a putt of 32 feet, 4 inches for birdie at the fifth hole in Friday's second round.
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FORT WORTH, Texas – Three Golf Boys have won PGA TOUR events in 2012. Ben Crane has not.
“Well,” Rickie Fowler said with a grin, “he is a bit slower than the rest of us.”
Crane won The McGladrey Classic in his final start of the 2011 season, but his best finish this year is a solo second at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
As a result …
“Ben doesn’t talk to us anymore,” Mahan said. “He’s pretty upset at us.”
Perhaps this week he’ll join his fellow Golf Boys in the 2012 winner’s circle. His track record at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial is pretty good – three top-5 finishes in his last five starts here, although he missed the cut last year.
Said Fowler: “I definitely want to see Ben get out there and get a win to complete the four wins for all of us.”
Overall, though, it’s been a productive 12 months on TOUR for the Golf Boys. Starting with Colonial last year, they’ve accumulated five wins and 16 other top-10s.
“It’s pretty crazy to think four guys who did something kind of silly and all played well since then,” Mahan said. “Pretty random, I would say, if anything. But it’s been fun. It’s a good motivator for all of us, I think.”
Following his opening-round 67, Ben Crane reflects on his play in the 2012 PLAYERS Championship with Doug Bellfrom SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.
By Bill Cooney, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — To say the least, Ben Crane enjoys a good challenge. So it’s no surprise that THE PLAYERS Championship brings out his best.
Crane was at it again on Thursday at TPC Sawgrass, carding a 5-under 67 to put him right in the mix after his opening round.
“This is probably my favorite tournament; just love this golf course,” said Crane, who has finished in the top 6 at THE PLAYERS in three of the past four years. “… There's no letup. It's just such a tough golf course.”
Crane, a four-time winner on the PGA TOUR, is off to a hot start in 2012, having already posted three top-10 finishes. He's coming off a tie for 21st at the Wells Fargo Championship -- which included a 64 in the second round. Crane ranks 22nd in the FedExCup standings.
But in terms of the Golf Boys, Crane ranks last in those standings. Hunter Mahan, the only two-time winner thus far on TOUR, leads in FedExCup points; Masters winner Bubba Watson is second; and last week’s winner, Rickie Fowler, ranks 15th.
Of that foursome, Crane’s the only one yet to reach the winner’s circle this season … although that could certainly change if he continues to play the rest of the week like he did on Thursday.
Crane, 36, birdied all four par 5s in his first round while adding birdies on the 471-yard fifth and the 358-yard 12th — when he stuck his approach to within 2 feet. His only stumble came on the 10th hole, when he couldn’t get up-and-down from the greenside bunker.
The impressive start at THE PLAYERS is nothing new to Crane. In seven tournaments here, Crane has broken par six times in the first round. In fact he’s shot in the 60s four times in Round 1, which has certainly served as a boon to his success.
“Today I just really managed my game really well, kept the ball out of the rough and had some great opportunities on the par 5s,” Crane said. “Was able to have a couple eagle putts, and yeah, things opened up early. … All in all, just really played well.”
The pairings have been unveiled for this week’s PGA TOUR Matchups Game on Facebook. You can check out the Matchups for the THE PLAYERS Championship below, or on the PGA TOUR’s Facebook page.
Participants have until 6 a.m. ET Thursday to make their picks. Log on to the PGA TOUR Facebook page and click the Matchups link to make your picks for this week, or to sign up.
|Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson||In dozens of starts, have just one PLAYERS win each|
|Rory McIlroy vs. Rickie Fowler||Rematch of last week's epic playoff at Wells Fargo|
|K.J. Choi vs. Sergio Garcia||Two former champs each won title in a playoff|
|Hunter Mahan vs. Ben Crane||Close friends both have game for TPC Sawgrass|
|Vijay Singh vs. Davis Love III||Love III has two titles here. Singh looking for first.|
As part of Zurich Insurance's celebration of serving America for 100 years, several PGA TOUR players turned out at TPC Louisiana on Tuesday to play three holes with hickory-shafted clubs -- while wearing 1912-style clothes. The PGA TOUR's Stan Badz was there to photograph the festivities.
A couple of observations: Justin Rose's plus-fours made him looks even taller ... and Rickie Fowler (of course) was given an orange tie.
To see Badz' collection of photos from the day, click here .
Who wore it best? Leave your thoughts in the space below.
Ben Crane meets with the media and talks about the genesis of the Golf Boys videos and the fun he's had making them.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AVONDALE, La. -- Years from now, when people are asked what they remember most about the 2012 Masters, they'll undoubtedly talk about the amazing shot Bubba Watson curved out of the trees onto the green on the second playoff hole.
A close second, though, will surely be the tearful and heartfelt hugs after Watson tapped in for the winning par. First, from his mother, Molly, and then from Ben Crane, Rickie Fowler and Aaron Baddeley, who made their way to the 10th green to support their good friend.
Crane and Fowler had been watching the final four holes unfold in the caddy area.
"We kept looking at each other like, he's got a chance, he's got a chance," Crane remembered on Tuesday at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. "Rickie was in casual clothes, and I said, buddy, you'd better change. You'd better look presentable if we go out."
Once the playoff with Louis Oosthuizen began, the three decided to follow the action. Knowing his wife Angie was at home with the son the couple had adopted two weeks earlier heightened their sense of urgency.
"We knew that Angie was at home, she wasn't able to come out because of the situation with their baby, and so we just wanted to go out and support our friend who we love," Crane said. "So that's one of the best things about being on TOUR, about winning tournaments -- just the fellowship out here, the community.
"It's so fun to do it with your friends. People ask me what's the highlight of your career. For me it's not like a victory, it's doing it with my friends and family and doing it for the right reasons, which is to glorify God."
The buddies talked a couple of Augusta National members into giving them a ride down the 18th fairway. They ended up at the back left of the green just as Watson hit the shot from the trees.
"I'm like, oh, gosh, is that right at us?" Crane recalled. "Your
reaction is like, oh, it's going to hit you. You always think the
ball is coming right at you, right? It started out, I'm going, oh,
boy, this is way off line, and all of a sudden it put on the
“But I wasn't watching the ball at this point. I'm just like ducking, right? Fight or flight, right? And then all of a sudden people started clapping. I'm like, what? I look up and I see the ball, like oh, my gosh. Obviously it will be one of the greatest shots of our era to be hit. Just an incredible shot."