Crane comes from behind for Farmers Insurance title
La Jolla, CA (Sports Network) - Ben Crane rolled in a tricky three-foot par
putt at the 18th hole Sunday to hang on and win the Farmers Insurance Open at
Crane shot a two-under 70 in the final round to come from behind and win.
Marc Leishman (68), Brandt Snedeker (69) and Michael Sim (71) shared second
place just one stroke out at 12-under 276.
Crane was one shot ahead of the three runner-ups with only Sim still on the
course. They had the par-five closing hole at the South Course to finish and
Crane landed in the rough, while Sim hit the short grass.
Crane had no choice but to lay up short of the water guarding the green. Sim
had 245 yards and down a stroke, elected to lay up. Sim's third spun all of
the way off the green and Crane's third also spun just to the fringe.
Sim chipped first to try and put some pressure on Crane. His chip came up well
short, meaning Crane needed a routine two-putt from about 12 feet to secure
Crane didn't make it easy. His birdie putt stopped almost three feet shy of
the cup, putting a mountain of unnecessary pressure on himself. Sim got in
for his par, meaning Crane had to make the three-footer to avoid a four-man
With thoughts of a missed par putt from a similar distance one hole earlier
fresh in his head, Crane stepped up and holed the par putt to preserve his
This was Crane's third PGA Tour crown and his first in almost five years. His
last victory came at the 2005 U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee and his
first title was at the 2003 BellSouth Classic.
Ernie Els (69), Alex Prugh (66), Michael Allen (65) and Rickie Fowler (70)
tied for fifth at minus-11.
Phil Mickelson, a three-time champion, was only four back to start the final
round, but bogeyed his first three holes to immediately fall out of
Mickelson, who was branded a "cheater" by fellow tour pro Scott McCarron this
week for his use of a Ping wedge that doesn't conform to the new groove rules,
but it is allowed in play based on a lawsuit, finished with a one-over 73 and
came in 19th at minus-eight.
"I feel like my game is coming around," said the world No. 2. "I don't feel it
was as bad as the score reflected. I felt I was ready. I was hitting the ball
great a week ago. Today, the putts didn't quite go in the hole. I don't feel
it's far off."
It wasn't far off for Crane on Sunday, especially with the flat stick.
Crane began the final round two shots back and he quickly chipped away at the
lead. He converted a short birdie putt at the second, then holed a 46-footer
for birdie at three.
First-round leader Ryuji Imada bogeyed the third hole with a three-putt from
slightly longer than Crane's successful birdie effort. Imada's bogey, coupled
with Crane's two birdies, gave Crane the lead and Imada never got back to the
top of the leaderboard.
After a par at the fourth, Crane sank another lengthy birdie chance, this time
from 22 feet at No. 5. Crane was two ahead and stayed in front by that cushion
through most of the front nine.
The field caught up with Crane and cut the margin to a single stroke. He
converted an eight-footer for par at the 10th and followed that with the
lengthiest birdie putt of them all. Crane made a 48-footer at No. 11 to
reclaim a two-shot advantage.
"It just looked in the whole way," said Crane.
Crane found trouble off the tee at the par-five 13th. He missed the fairway
right and landed short of the putting surface with his second. Crane hit an
average third to 15 feet, but ran his birdie try four feet past the cup. He
missed that putt and walked off with a bogey and a one-stroke lead.
At the 17th, Crane had almost three feet to save par and take a two-shot lead
to the final hole. He missed the putt and added some excitement to the 18th,
but ultimately came out on top.
Defending champion Nick Watney (68), Charles Howell III (68), Robert Allenby
(70), D.A. Points (71), reigning U.S. Open winner Lucas Glover (72) and Imada
(75) shared ninth at 10-under 278.
NOTES: First-round leader Scott Piercy shot a three-under 69 on Sunday and
tied for 20th at minus-seven...Next week is the Northern Trust Open, which was
won by Mickelson last year.