DULUTH, Ga. — Ben Crane stood on the 18th tee with a two-shot lead, his first PGA Tour victory within reach. He planned to play conservatively, but a 357-yard drive changed that strategy.
Crane made an eagle on the last hole Sunday and beat Bob Tway by four shots at the BellSouth Classic for his first victory in his 40th tour event.
"I am so thankful, I played great. I'm a little numb still," said Crane, the first first-time winner on the PGA Tour this year.
Crane's eagle at the 18th punctuated a 29 on the back nine, and his 63 tied the course record. His 127 total in the final two rounds is the lowest on tour this season.
At 5 feet 10 and 165 pounds, Crane doesn't look like a big hitter. But his drive on the par-five 18th carried just over the top of a hill, then bounded down the fairway and through a gallery crossing path.
It wound up 190 yards from the green, and Crane felt he couldn't afford to lay up. He hit a seven-iron 20 feet behind the hole. When he rolled in the eagle putt, he flipped his putter in the air, then pumped his fists several times before hugging Stewart Cink, his playing partner.
"I've been struggling with the mental part of allowing myself to play well, and Stewart has become a very good, close friend," said Crane, whose previous best finish was a tie for 10th.
Tway, who trailed leader Lee Janzen by two shots entering the final round, held the top spot for most of the day until a three-putt bogey at No. 15. At No. 16, Crane made a birdie to take the lead.
"I could have hit a few closer shots, and I could have made a couple of putts there, but Ben shot a fabulous round," Tway said. "So I'm not going to kick myself in the rear, but I still have some improving to do."
Janzen fared worse. Trying to end a five-year winless streak of his own, he shot 77 and finished eight shots behind Crane.