What they said: Ben Crane

October 17, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: McGladrey Classic transcript archive

JOHN BUSH: We'll get started. We'd like to welcome defending champion Ben Crane here to the McGladrey Classic. Ben, first of all, welcome back. Get your comments on last year's win and then also this year.

BEN CRANE: It's just fun to be back, certainly playing the Back nine kind of reminiscing about the last time I was here. And this has obviously turned into a really special place. Got a lot of close friends here.

And obviously last year being the birth of my daughter was just a day away, turned out to be just hours after I left here was something that I'll never forget, and actually today is her first birthday, so it's kind of cool.

JOHN BUSH: How is your health?

BEN CRANE: It's all right. Yeah. I'm just excited to be playing again. I haven't played a lot lately. So just excited to be out there. And it felt good. Just had a great group of guys in my program, and yeah, good to go.

JOHN BUSH: Before we open it up for questions, we had Davis in earlier. He's going for 27 straight years in the Top 100 on the Money List. I know except for 2007 for you when you were injured and then also the birth of your first daughter, you would have 11 straight. Talk a little bit about what it takes for that longevity and being so consistent and successful.

BEN CRANE: Yeah, I think about that a lot. How is it that you continue to play well out here, and the only way to do it is to continue to improve and the level of play is just getting better and better. So I think it's hard -- the hardest thing is finding out the things that make you at the level that as talented as you are, and then not taking any of those things away and then adding some things and working on some things constructively.

So I think what it really takes is just being very -- I don't know if attentive is the word to your stats and knowing the parts of the game that you can improve. And so I think I've had a lot of good help along the way to help me figure those things out. So if there is a technique problem or there is a mental issue or whatever, we're able to kind of identify it.

JOHN BUSH: Okay. Questions.

Q. When you look back last year at just the way you closed out the last nine holes, can you remember a stretch of golf where you were playing better or where you were putting better than you were at this last year??

BEN CRANE: I mean I have one other time in my career. It was at the BellSouth Classic in 2003 where I had a similar Back 9. But really it's happened like twice, you know, in my career. It's just where everything just starts to flow together, and you just kind of get in that real comfortable place, and yeah, it's the place that -- that's why you play golf is because you hope to get into that place like I was last year here on the Back 9 where, you know, the shots are solid and the putts are online and you're reading them right and they tend to go in.

So it's a sweet feeling and something that is very elusive because it's just hard to get back to that place.

I think one of the reasons why it's toughest to get back to that place is because you look back and you go, wow, look at those results. How cool was that. But you've lost the process of how you got to that place and all the work you did prior. And I think a lot of us want -- there's not a guy out here in this tournament or on the mini tours that doesn't want to play at a high level on the PGA TOUR, but you really have to take a step back from that and say, all right, what's the process that's going to take me there; what are the little steps I can take day by day to get me there.

Q. You were talking about improving. What part of your game are you going to have to improve this week or really beyond to repeat what you did last year, to be the winner, not necessarily have another Back 9 like that??

BEN CRANE: Well, for me, right now in this moment I went out and I made some putts today, but I also missed a couple of putts that I should have made, so I think the number one thing is for my putting is starting the ball online, being able to hit the lines that I want to hit. That's the thing that I need to improve and get ready for tomorrow.

Really, there's a lot of guys who hit the ball great this week, but the guy who putts the best is the guy who comes out on top. And really this game is -- everybody in this field is going to hit the ball pretty solid and stay out of most of the trouble and all that, but it's really the guy who makes those occasional 15, 20-footers that seems to excel. We see it every week. It's not the guy who gets it close to the hole; it's the guy who's making the putts.

Q. What part of the game is this golf course, is it the drives or the irons, putts? What is it you really need to win on this course?

BEN CRANE: Well, this course really shows itself two ways. When the wind blows and when the wind doesn't. But the thing about this course that's unique is that there's trouble off the tee on different sides, and when there's trouble it's right in front of you. It's not very often where you have to literally just pipe it right down the middle. It's like, hey, there's water left; hey, this hole there's water right. And it's extremely penal because it's hazard line all the way up there, so if you don't carry that hazard, it's like a lost ball, two-stroke penalty.

So what's penal about this golf course is if you do try to challenge some of these lines off these tees and you don't make it, that's a two-shot penalty. That's a major penalty. So I think playing conservatively to certain sides and making sure on those particular holes, if a guy -- if I go out tomorrow and I have a left miss or something, I have to be able to correct that right away certainly because when you get so some of these holes depending on which side the trouble is on you have to manage that miss.

So I think that's something this course presents itself with is you gotta get the ball in play and there are some very difficult tee shots. The greens are pure. I mean, and they're so fast. And I think the greens are going to be faster this year, and downwind, down grain, I think we're going to see a lot of putts go by the hole, and I certainly ran a number of them by today. So we'll have to manage that as well.

Q. Next year, Ben, this tournament along with all the other Fall Series events, are going to take on a different significance. Obviously you're the defending champion, you're coming back here anyway, but are you sort of thinking in terms of scheduling for the future already because of what's going to happen next year??

BEN CRANE: There's no doubt that it's going to encourage guys to play more and to continue their season another month. And you know, I love these Fall Series events. I actually love to play them all. I actually like all these tournaments, and I've always loved Vegas. I love making birdies. Frys, they do an unbelievable job. This is an incredible week. Just look around. And CIMB is a really cool week being over there, and Disney is obviously a cool week as well, especially when you have kids.

So this is a great fall finish, and now that the points are going to be awarded, I think the strength of the field is going to come up significantly. I'm really curious to see how much, because you know, the top players for the most part do shut it down right after the FedExCup.

So yeah, I definitely think that I will -- you know, this year, I'll probably play three or four times in the fall next year just depending on how I finish up the season and all that stuff. But yeah, it's going to encourage guys to play more. I'm excited about it.

Q. What's the plan for the off season? Do you have to do anything for the back injury or just a little rehab?

BEN CRANE: I literally, it's just I have a little inflammation around my disk. I had an MRI. There's nothing really wrong. I just had it aggravated a few weeks ago, and I just need a couple weeks to just, you know, relax and it'll be fine and I can start training hard again and practicing and getting my reps in.

Q. What did it mean to you with this just being a new event, it being in the second year, what did it mean for you to be the second champion in a new event that could last 30, 40years, just to be the second champion of it??

BEN CRANE: Well, Davis is a very good friend and someone that I really admire, so to have his involvement with the tournament was certainly really cool. And then to be in a playoff with one of my best friends, Webb Simpson, and to be here where Zach and Jay Byrd, and I'm very close to these guys. So it's kind of like -- it's just kind of like a second home in a sense. So it makes it a very special place, and we just love being here. My kids love being here. And it's a fun week, on top of the fact it's a great golf tournament.

Q. If they do end up with anchoring van in December or January, what would your take on it be??

BEN CRANE: There's just no clear thing, that obviously a lot of guys feel that anchoring is not controlling the full length of the putter, but there's guys that have used it forever, guys like Tim Clark, he said, "I will have trouble playing professional golf. I don't think I'll be able to play if we get rid of that."

I know it's also a possibility that the PGA TOUR might not go with the USGA's decision. That would be weird. I know it's only happened like once or twice or whatever, but there's just no good answer right now because we do have a lot of guys who have been using it for a long time. I don't know. I don't really choose to take a stand on it one way or another. I can see both sides of the fence.

JOHN BUSH: Ben, we appreciate your time.