DULUTH, Ga. -- Ben Crane stood on the 18th tee with a two-shot lead, his first PGA Tour victory within reach.
He planned to play conservatively, but a 357-yard drive changed that strategy.
Crane made an eagle on the last hole Sunday and beat Bob Tway by four shots at the BellSouth Classic for his first victory in his 40th tour event.
''I am so thankful, I played great. I'm a little numb still,''
said Crane, the first first-time winner on the PGA Tour this year.
Crane's eagle at the 18th punctuated a 29 on the back nine, and
his 63 tied the course record. His 127 total in the last two rounds
is the lowest on tour this season.
At 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds, Crane doesn't look like a big
hitter. But his drive on the par-5 18th carried just over the top
of a hill, then bounded down the fairway and through a gallery
The drive wound up 190 yards from the green, and Crane felt he
couldn't afford to lay up.
''When you hit it there, you've got to go,'' he said. ''If you
hit it on top of the hill, you have a one-shot lead, you lay up.''
He hit a 7-iron 20 feet behind the hole, then high-fived his
caddy. Crane chose to make the walk up to the green with playing
partner Stewart Cink, who lives inside the gates of the TPC at
When Crane rolled in the eagle putt, he flipped his putter in
the air, then pumped his fists several times before hugging Cink.
''I've been struggling with the mental part of allowing myself
to play well, and Stewart has become a very good, close friend,''
said Crane, whose previous best finish was a tie for 10th.
He walked to the scorer's tent and hugged his wife, Heather,
then accepted congratulations from Steve Jones, who had finished
his round three groups earlier.
Tway, who trailed leader Lee Janzen by two shots entering the
final round, held the top spot for most of the day until a
three-putt bogey at No. 15. Up ahead at No. 16, Crane made a birdie
to take the lead.
''I could have hit a few closer shots, and I could have made a
couple of putts there, but Ben shot a fabulous round,'' said Tway,
who hasn't won in eight years. ''So I'm not going to kick myself in
the rear, but I still have some improving to do.''
Janzen fared worse. Trying to end a five-year winless streak of
his own, he shot 77 and finished eight shots behind Crane.
Still, he sought out the winner afterward and offered some kind
''He just said, 'Give me a hug, buddy,''' Crane said.
''Obviously, he's very disappointed that he didn't win, but to
congratulate me like that was very nice.''
Crane actually jump-started his round by making an 11-foot putt
for bogey on the 9th hole, then made birdies on Nos. 10 and 11.
''That was big,'' Crane said of his bogey. ''It kind of got me
excited. It wasn't a killer at all, by any means.''
After making another birdie at No. 13, Crane he trailed by just
a shot. He chose not to look at the leaderboard for most of the
round, but as he was walking to the 14th tee, a fan told him where
''I worked so hard not to look at the leaderboard all day, and
I'm like, thanks, but it worked out good,'' Crane said.
He made routine par at 17 before finally looking at the
''I kind of wanted to have an idea of what I wanted to do on 18
going into the hole,'' Crane said. ''I looked at my caddie and he
said, 'Well, if you make par, I think we're all right.'
''So I just stepped up there and ripped a driver, and it went
all the way down to the bottom.''
Tway knew where he stood when he made the turn, but when he
checked again after his bogey at 15, he was surprised at what he
''I looked over and he was at 14, and I go, well, gee, he must
have birdied some holes quickly,'' Tway said. ''It must have been a
fabulous round. I'll have to watch the replay and see how he did