MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Ben Crane estimates he slept less than three hours in a night spent praying and thanking God that his game finally has come back.
Then he played 30 holes Sunday in winning the St. Jude Classic for his first PGA Tour title since 2011, setting off a celebration that included hugging his caddie and high-fiving a reporter. Crane also choked back some tears as he looked at text messages filling his phone.
Oh my gosh, it just keeps going, Crane said, looking at his phone. How many can a phone hold? This is so much fun
Crane closed with a 3-over 73 for a one-stroke victory, going wire to wire for his fifth career victory. Rain delays forced him into the marathon session Sunday at TPC Southwind, finishing 12 holes in the morning in a third-round 69 to take a three-shot lead into the final round.
He two-putted for bogey on the final hole to finish at 10-under 270, days after failing to qualify for the U.S. Open. That marked a low point for the 38-year-old player who spent the past six months reworking his swing to protect his back wondering if his career was over. He spent time with a coach picturing the right way to hit shots.
Troy Merritt was second after a 71. Webb Simpson (65), Matt Every (70) and Carl Pettersson (69) were 8 under, and Ian Poulter had a 64 to tie for sixth at 7 under.
Merritt credited the best finish of his career to an improved short game.
Ben played great, Merritt said. Hats off to him. Well deserved. He’s been struggling for a little while. Very happy for Ben.
Phil Mickelson, among those tuning up for the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, left winless in his 20th event since the British Open. He tied for 11th at 6 under after a 72.
LPGA: In Waterloo, Ontario, Inbee Park won the Manulife Financial Classic for her first LPGA Tour title in more than 11 months, matching the course record with a 10-under 61 for a three-stroke victory over Cristie Kerr.
CHAMPIONS: In Ridgedale, Missouri, Jeff Sluman and Fred Funk teamed to win the Champions Tour’s Legends of Golf, and Jim Colbert and Jim Thorpe topped the Legends Division for players 65 and older.
EUROPEAN: In Atzenbrugg, Austria, Mikael Lundberg beat Bernd Wiesberger in a playoff to win the Lyoness Open for his first European Tour title in six years and third overall.
CURTIS CUP: In St. Louis, Alabama’s Emma Talley wrapped up the United States’ Curtis Cup victory, beating Britain and Ireland’s Bronte Law 4 and 3 in the opening singles match at St. Louis Country Club.
The United States won 13-7.