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June 08. 2014 8:11PM

Crane wins St. Jude Classic despite birdie-free round

Ben Crane became the first player in nine years to win a PGA Tour event without a birdie in the final round as he limped to a one-stroke victory at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis on Sunday.

Crane did just enough to secure his fifth tour title, carding a three-over-par 73 at the TPC Southwind.

He had the luxury of bogeying the final hole, tapping in from one foot to finish at 10-under 270, while Troy Merritt (71) claimed second place at nine-under.

Crane, 38, collected $1.044 million but the victory did not earn him a spot in the U.S. Open, which starts on Thursday.

Still he was delighted to win again after changing his swing over the past year to help cope with a back problem.

“It’s been a battle this year,” he told CBS television. “I’ve changed a lot of stuff and I didn’t know if I would get it back. This is a big surprise.”

Crane, who led after every round, held a three-shot edge over Merritt after 54 holes and Merritt was the only player to exert any pressure in a final round devoid of drama.

Merritt, ranked 805th in the world, got within one stroke after nine holes, but did not pick up a birdie on the back nine.

Neither did Crane, who became the first player since Justin Leonard in 2005, also in Memphis, to win without a final round birdie.

Crane started Sunday perfectly with his first shot of the day, chipping in for birdie at the seventh hole in the weather-delayed third round.

That was his only birdie all day.

Phil Mickelson, meanwhile, tied for 11th, four strokes behind, matching his best result on the PGA Tour this year, though he tied for second on the European Tour in Abu Dhabi in January.

LPGA: Inbee Park wins

Inbee Park fired a 10-under 61 Sunday to win the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Park beat runnerup Cristie Kerr by three shots on the Grey Silo Golf Course. Her 61 tied a course record. Kerr shot a 63 in the final round.

 

 

Park finished at 23-under par at 261 overall over the four rounds. Kerr finished at 20-under.

Park, who recently lost her No. 1 spot in the Rolex Rankings to Kerr, is expected to remain second and Kerr to stay on top. Park enjoyed 10 birdies in the final round, including three straight on Nos. 12-14.

Shanshan Feng, who held a two-shot lead after Saturday’s third round, shot a 68 on Sunday to finish third, and five shots out of the lead.

Park’s victory was her 10th on the LPGA Tour. She won $255,000 to move up from 18th to 16th on the career money list and from seventh to fourth on this year’s list with $744,510 in winnings.

Last year’s winner, Hee Young Park, tied for 10th at 13-under. She shot a 68 on Sunday.

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