MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Ben Crane won the St. Jude Classic on Sunday for his first PGA Tour title since 2011, closing with a 3-over 73 for a one-stroke victory.
Crane went wire to wire for his fifth career victory. He played 30 holes on the last day because of rain delays at TPC Southwind, finishing the final 12 holes of his third-round 69 in the morning to take a three-shots lead into the final round.
He two-putted for bogey on the final hole to finish at 10-under 270.
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,
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.
Consecutive birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 put Mickelson at 8 under. But he bogeyed the next two, including the par-3 14th where he hit a 7-iron into the water in front of the green. He still finished much better than his tie for 49th at Memorial last week after an early visit from FBI agents and lingering questions about an insider-trading investigation.
“The way I drove the ball last two rounds I had an opportunity to shoot really low,” Mickelson said. “My iron play was poor, and my putting was pathetic. I’ll have to make some changes and to get ready for next week. But the game is not far off because I’m driving the ball very well and putting it in play.”
Wind, thunderstorms, lightning and fog have delayed play each of the first three days. With more storms forecast, players started the final round almost immediately after concluding the third. They finished without single delay Sunday as the sun even came out as this tournament finished its 57th year without being shortened because of weather.
Crane opened with a 63 on Thursday and used strong putting and few mistakes to keep the lead. He had three bogeys in the final round, one more than he had through 54 holes.
He finished his third round, then hustled over to the No. 1 tee to start the final round. He cruised along before two-putting for bogey on No. 6, dropping his lead to two strokes over Brian Harman and Merritt. Crane bogeyed No. 9 after hitting his tee shot into the rough. He couldn’t clear the rough with his next shot, and his third bounced to the rough behind the green.
Nobody chased Crane down.
Merritt was the closest, within a stroke for six holes before putting his tee shot on the par-4 15th into the rough. He couldn’t roll the ball in from 15 feet to save par. That dropped him to 9 under, giving Crane more breathing room.
Crane strung together eight straight pars before going to the par-4 No. 18 with a two-stroke lead needing to avoid the water down the left side of the fairway. He did, though he did find the greenside bunker. Crane two-putted from 12 feet for the win. He earned $1,044,000.
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