October 17, 2011 in Sports

Golf roundup: Crane stages big rally

 

Ben Crane knew he was going home today to be with his wife for the birth of their third child. He had no reason to believe he would be bringing the McGladrey Classic trophy with him.

Seven shots behind with 11 holes to play, Crane ran off seven birdies to close with a 7-under 63, and then he won the sudden-death playoff when Webb Simpson missed a short par putt on the second extra hole Sunday at St. Simons Island, Ga.

Crane nearly holed his approach on the 14th to start a string of four straight birdies. He had a long two-putt on the par-5 15th, followed by a pair of birdie putts from about 20 feet.

Simpson closed with a 66, despite not making a birdie over his last seven holes.

They finished at 15-under 265 and extended the PGA Tour’s record with the 18th playoff this year. It looked as if it might last more than two holes when Crane made a 5-foot comeback putt for par, and Simpson had a par putt just over 3 feet. But it caught the right lip and spun away, giving Crane his first win of the year.

Simpson was trying to become the only three-time winner on tour this season, which might have made him a favorite in the wide-open race for PGA Tour player of the year. The consolation could be the money, which is the reason Simpson came to Sea Island in the first place.

With his runner-up finish, Simpson moved to the top of the season money list by $363,029 over Luke Donald, the No. 1 player in the world ranking. Both players have entered the season-ending tournament next week at Disney.

Champions Tour

Fred Couples ran away with the Champions Tour’s AT&T Championship in San Antonio, shooting a bogey-free 6-under-par 66 for a seven-stroke victory – the largest margin on the 50-and-over tour this year.

Couples finished at 23 under on TPC San Antonio’s Canyons Course. He won for the second time this season and sixth time in two seasons on the tour.

Mark Calcavecchia shot a 66 to finish second. Charles Schwab Cup points leader Tom Lehman and John Cook tied for third at 14 under. They also closed with 66s.

Couples’ 54-hole total of 193 broke the tournament record of 195 set by Mark McNulty in 2005 on the par-71 Oak Hills Country Club course.

LPGA

South Korea’s Na Yeon Choi won the LPGA Malaysia for her first LPGA Tour victory of the season and fifth in three years, beating top-ranked Yani Tseng by a stroke at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Choi closed with a 3-under 69 to finish at 15-under 269 at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. She birdied the par-3 17th to pull ahead and parred the par-4 18th to hold off Tseng.

Choi’s victory was the 100th LPGA Tour win by players of Korean descent.

Wendy Ward of Edwall, Wash., shot a 4-over-par 75. She tied for 50th place at 291 and earned $6,485.


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