LA QUINTA, Calif. – Ben Crane didn’t get off to the most auspicious of starts when he found the fairway bunker and a greenside bunker on the 10th hole at the Palmer Course en route to a bogey.
Turns out, that was a momentary setback as Crane rolled in a 26-footer for eagle at No. 11 and birdied three of his next four holes to take a two-stroke lead at 11 under. Overnight leaders Camilo Villegas and David Toms are among four players tied for second, along with Kevin Chappell and Ted Potter Jr.
Exacting a measure of revenge after his adventure in the sand on the first hole, Crane holed a bunker shot for birdie on the par-3 12th. He added birdie putts of 4 and 8 feet on the 14th and 15th holes.
Crane tied for ninth in his season’s debut at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. The four-time PGA TOUR champion’s last victory came at The McGladrey Classic last summer, coming from five strokes off the pace in the final round to win -- the day before his third child was born.