By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
NORTON, Mass. -- Ben Crane made the briefest of appearances in the scorer's trailer late Saturday afternoon and then strode purposefully toward the locker room.
As disappointed as he was to miss the cut at the Deutsche Bank Championship, though, Crane stopped and signed every piece of paper, tournament program and pin flag thrust at him. By then, a handful of reporters had gathered around his golf bag, their questions at the ready.
Normally a missed cut would not have attracted so much attention. But this early exit -- assured when Crane missed a 9-footer to save par at the 18th hole -- had dropped him from 52nd to 70th in the projected FedExCup standings.
So now Crane, who shot 74-71, will have to wait until the tournament is over on Labor Day to see if he advances to next week's BMW Championship. He's on the FedExCup Playoffs bubble now with two rounds remaining at TPC Boston.
"I knew. I knew. I knew exactly where I stood," Crane said. "Just a disappointing way to finish.
“I know all things work for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. So I know that we grow in the trials of life and I know that to some people missing the cut by a shot in a tournament like this may not mean a lot. But it means a lot to me. So it's very disappointing but I know I'll grow from it, too."
Crane had earned his last FedExCup points back in July at the John Deere Classic when he tied for 13th and left ranked 36th in the standings. But he didn't play the British Open and then had to withdraw during the second round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational with a back injury.
Crane didn't play another round of golf until last Thursday at The Barclays, which is the first Playoffs event. He ended up missing the cut by one shot on the Black Courses at Bethpage State Park, a monster of a layout that had hosted two U.S. Opens.
"So it's an easy golf course to start with -- Bethpage and swinging about 75 percent," Crane said wryly. "Just one of those things where, hey, if I can play a couple of rounds and just kind of get the game in shape and maybe I can keep improving. And it was perfect just missing the cut by a shot, I was like, yeah, for not playing, that wasn't too bad.
"And then coming here I got off to a rough start yesterday and never really got it going in the right direction."
Crane actually was on the cut line Saturday when he came to the 15th hole, faced what he called an "impossible" bunker shot and ended up missing a 20-footer to save par. He gave himself a chance at No. 16 but misread the 7-footer for birdie, then converted from 6 at the 17th to get back to the magic 2 over.
Then came the bitter disappointment at the par-5 18th.
Crane said he probably could have hit a 5-wood or cut a 3-wood onto the green but he was worried about it bouncing over the new putting surface. So he decided to lay up, then hit a little behind the ball and his third shot came up short of the green.
Crane couldn't decide whether to putt or chip and ended up leaving himself a 9-footer to save par. The optimist in him thought the putt would hit the left edge and fall in. Instead, it lipped out and his bid was done.
"I don't know how the whole thing's going to shake out, but I've had a really disappointing last month being hurt and not being able to swing until Thursday really of Bethpage," Crane said. "It's hard, really, when you can't practice and come out and start the Playoffs. It's just a hard way to go and I put myself a little behind the eight-ball. …
"Thankfully golf and life are unpredictable because it causes us to grow, and I certainly never could have predicted this and I don't claim to understand it all. But I know that I will grow from it and I will come back with more perseverance and I know it will work out great."