PGA Tour Players Have Georgia On Their Minds

By Lance Hanlin, lhanlin@golfersguide.com

After winning the McGladrey Classic last year at Sea Island Golf Club, Ben Crane asked a simple question in his post-tournament news conference.

“What the heck am I doing here?” Crane said.

His wife was scheduled to have their third child in Dallas the next day.

He nearly withdrew from the tournament three days before due to a sore hip.

On the final day, he was so far out of the lead, he didn’t even look at the scoreboard until the 16th hole.
So what in the heck was Crane doing there, sitting next to the winner’s trophy after all the dust settled at sundown on the Georgia coast?

Following a disappointing 2011 regular season, he made the trip to Sea Island just to find his form.  
On the final day, he made the turn at the Seaside Course down six strokes but came up with birdies on holes 9, 10 and 11. After two more birdies on 14 and 15, the Oregon native finally looked at the scoreboard and realized he had an outside shot.

It made him think of a line from one of his favorite movies.

“So you’re saying there’s a chance!” Crane joked, quoting Jim Carry from the 1994 film Dumb and Dumber.

He made a 20-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole and an 18-footer for birdie on No. 17, giving him eight birdies over his final 11 holes to tie Webb Simpson at 15-under for the lead.

After Simpson missed a three-foot par putt on the second playoff hole, Crane picked up the fourth PGA Tour victory of his career.

“That’s as good as I can play,” Crane said.

The 36-year-old Baylor graduate will look for more of his best when the 2012 McGladrey Classic returns to the Seaside Course Oct. 18-21.

Heading into its third year, the PGA Tour Fall Series event has been nothing short of dramatic. Crane’s playoff victory was preceded by Heath Slocum’s one-stroke victory over Bill Hass in the inaugural tournament in 2010.

In comparison to other fall series events, the McGladrey Classic has drawn an impressive field of professionals. Five of the top eight finishers in this year’s U.S. Open played in last year’s McGladrey Classic.

Several professionals live on St. Simons Island and train at the Sea Island Golf Learning Center, including Jonathan Byrd, Lucas Glover, Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Stewart Cink, Matt Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker. The tournament host is Davis Love III.

“We have a fantastic venue in Sea Island and you couldn’t ask for a better host than Davis Love III,” tournament director Scott Reid said. “He is so well-respected among his peers on the tour. I think a lot of players knew if he was going to be involved, it was going to be a first-class event. The word is getting out. I think the field is going to keep getting better each year.”

The Seaside course was built by Tom Fazio and features several tidal creeks and salt marshes. Ancient oaks and cedars, white sandy dunes and native grasses add contrast to the perfectly manicured fairways and greens. The course consistently ranks among the best in the nation.

“It’s such a good golf course,” Reid said. “It’s got a lot of character and it’s a straight-forward golf course. There’s nothing tricky about it. I think that’s why the players really like it. It’s tough around the greens and if the wind blows, look out. We really haven’t had any of our normal wind the first two years. We’re still waiting for that windy day to see how they do.”

McGladrey, the world’s fifth largest tax and consulting firm, signed a three-year extension with the tournament last year and will serve as title sponsor through 2015. The tournament will join the FedEx Cup schedule next year. 

“It’s a very intimate event,” Reid said. “We probably average six or seven thousand people a day so you get a chance to get up close to the players. Everybody is just relaxed, having a good time and the weather is perfect in October here. It’s just a great time of the year to be here. If you’re a golf fan, you couldn’t ask for a better setting.”

DETAILS
What: 2012 McGladrey Classic PGA Tour golf tournament (national event)
When: Oct. 18-21
Where: Seaside Course, Sea Island Golf Club; St. Simons Island, Ga.
TV schedule: 2 p.m.-5 p.m., Oct. 18-21, Golf Channel
Tickets: $30-$35 daily, $125 weekly
More information: Go online to www.mcgladreyclassic.com

 

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