Ben Crane is back in the news for all the right reasons.
Crane's quiet offseason took a strange turn in December when a gossip magazine quoted him as saying that Tiger Woods was a "phony and fake," even though Crane had never spoken to Life & Style and had not given any interviews in months.
He handled that situation with the same even hand he displayed Sunday at Torrey Pines, where Crane overcame a two-shot deficit and hung on for a 2-under-par 70 and a one-shot victory in the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego.
Crane, 33, finished at 13-under 275 for his third career victory, ending an 0-for-98 drought that stretches to Milwaukee in the summer of 2005.
"Obviously, being in the news a month ago was bizarre," Crane said. "Someone made some stuff up that I said something about Tiger, which I didn't. To be in the news again? Yeah, my name keeps popping up. It's good to be [in the news] on a good note."
Then he smiled and said, "And you can quote me on that."
Even more bizarre was the way Crane made his way around the tough South Course. He made two birdie putts longer than 45 feet to seize control, then missed two short par putts to keep alive the hopes of Michael Sim, Brandt Snedeker and Marc Leishman. And the whole time, Crane wasn't even keeping score. He pledged not to look at a leader board all day, and when he rapped in a 30-inch par putt, Crane didn't even realize he had won until Ryuji Imada congratulated him.
"Did I win?" Crane asked.
With a reputation for slow play, perhaps it was only fitting that he was the last to know. Even as he settled in for his news conference, he wasn't sure of the perks - a return trip to the Masters and Kapalua next January. He likely will crack the top 60 in the world, which should be enough to put him in the Match Play Championship.
Starting the final round two shots behind, he opened with three birdies in five holes, including one from a little more than 45 feet on No. 3. He expanded his lead to three shots with another 45-foot birdie putt on the 11th. Then, it was a matter of hanging on.
"It's really cool to know I'm going in the right direction," Crane said.
He had plenty of challengers, although Phil Mickelson wasn't one of them. Making his season debut, and only four shots behind, Mickelson bogeyed his first three holes and was never a factor. He closed with a 73 and finished 19th.
Karlsson wins at Qatar
Robert Karlsson of Sweden shot 7-under 65 to win the Qatar Masters by three strokes. He made seven birdies to finish 15-under 273 at Doha Golf Club for his 10th European Tour victory, his first since missing several months last season with an eye injury. - AP