Ben Crane, back in business after overcoming a debilitating back problem, charged to a seven-stroke clubhouse lead in the second round at the weather-plagued FedEx St Jude Classic in Memphis on Friday.
Crane was the first to admit he was on the favorable end of the draw, playing in calm weather late on Thursday and again early on Friday, but that did not detract from the quality of his performance.
“It was a dream round of golf,” he told Golf Channel after following an opening 63 with a 65 at the TPC Southwind course.
He posted a 12-under 128 halfway total, while compatriots Davis Love III (70) and Billy Horschel (68) were best of the other early starters at five-under.
Less than half the field completed the round before thunderstorms halted play for the second consecutive day.
Phil Mickelson was among those still waiting to tee off mid-afternoon as another band of storms honed in on the course, ensuring that the round spilled over into yesterday morning.
Crane, a four-time PGA Tour winner, was forced to pull out of a tournament in August last year due to back pain. he rehabilitated his body quicker than his game, leaving him languishing 150th on the Tour’s points list.
It has all come together and despite a bogey at the final hole, his first blemish all week, Crane was delighted with his performance.
“I’m just so thrilled to be playing well,” he said. “I just kept making putts and giving myself opportunities, and then you don’t feel like you have to hit it so close. It’s certainly the way you want to play golf. The greens are so pure and the hole just opened up.”
“We had ideal scoring conditions. The wind laid down for us after the storm yesterday and the greens softened up a bit. Today it was calm this morning,” he said.
AFP, ATZENBRUGG, Austria
Mikael Lundberg took sole control of the Austrian Open on Friday, the Swede adding a second round 68 to his opening 67 for a nine-under-par total of 135.
Lundberg, targeting a first European Tour title in six years, had shared the overnight lead with England’s Adam Gee, who carded a 73 to slip to sixth, five shots off the pace.
Lee Slattery is lying second, one shot off the top, with Fabrizio Zanotti a further shot away in third.
“I hit a lot of good shots early on and managed to make some putts, so that got my confidence up,” Lundberg said. “I’ve been doing some great work with my new coach, Neil Jordan, over the last few weeks, and my game is feeling a lot more solid.”