By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Ben Crane is never going to be included in a discussion about long bombers on the PGA TOUR.
For the season, Crane is 145th in driving distance at 284.9 yards a pop. But he’s found a little more lately
thanks to a new shaft from Titleist, with winning results.
Crane won last week at The McGladrey Classic with his always-solid putter leading the way (his Strokes-Gained Putting figure was 2.023, second-best in the field), but he also was 21st in driving (288.0-yard average), a ranking not often associated with the Oregonian.
Crane’s history of back injuries hasn’t helped his distance, but work with the Titleist Performance Institute has helped him to regain some ball speed. And during a recent fitting session with Larry Bobka, Titleist’s VP of Club Promotion, Ben put a new, lighter Bassara W 50 for Titleist shaft in his 910D2 driver.
Validation came instantly – his first top 10 since April, a T10 at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. In the firm-and-fast Las Vegas desert he averaged 313.1 off the tee, tied for 21st in the field. Then last week, with the eye-catching red shaft, he won at Sea Island.
Titleist said the Bassara W, developed by Mitsubishi Rayon and weighing in at 53 grams, is one of the lightest shafts to ever win on TOUR.
"We built this particular driver configuration based on a conversation with (TPI co-founder) Greg Rose and Ben's desire for more distance," Bobka said in the Titleist blog. "Being a straight hitter with a delicate back, Ben needed a driver that created what I call 'easy distance.' "
Crane took loft off his previous driver configuration, going to 7.5 degrees, which combined with the longer (46 inch) and lighter shaft created better launch conditions and more distance.
NEW OLD PUTTER: Trevor Immelman finished fifth at The McGladrey, leading the field in putts per round (27.5 average) and putts per GIR (1.667) with a belly version of the Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball. It was his third different Odyssey model in as many weeks, though he also won with the same model at the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open in Germany in 2004.
RUNNING AWAY: Fred Couples won the Champions Tour’s AT&T Championship by seven shots, the largest margin on Tour this year. He wore his familiar Ecco Golf Street Premier hybrid shoes – without socks.
RUNNING AWAY II: Last week’s Nationwide Tour event also featured a seven-shot rout, by Jason Kokrak at the Miccosukee Championship. He plays the Srixon Z-Star XV ball, and in moving up to fourth on the money list gives Srixon two top representatives of the Z-Star. Nationwide money leader J.J. Killeen also plays it.
NEW CLASSIC: Cleveland Golf has released an updated version of its popular 588 wedges, and David Toms was spotted with them in the bag at The McGladrey. Read more here.
WINNER’S BAG: Crane at The McGladrey
Driver: Titleist 910D2 (7.5°) with a Mitsubishi Rayon Bassara W 50 shaft
Fairway woods: TaylorMade V Steel (15°) Titleist 910F (17°) with Mitsubishi Diamana Blue Board 93 shafts
Hybrid: Titleist 910H (21°) with a UST Mamiya ProForce AXIVCore 100 shaft
Irons: Titleist AP2 (5-PW) with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design (51°), Spin Milled C-C (55°, 59°) with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts
Putter: Odyssey White Hot #5
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x