Fairway eagle propels Ben Crane to record halfway total
The assault on par resumed at Port Royal Golf Course yesterday, just like it did Thursday, as a large number of players went low.
The Butterfield Bermuda Championship’s halfway cut at six under ties the record for the lowest in the history of the PGA Tour.
Play was suspended at 7pm because of darkness with two golfers, Bermuda’s Jarryd Dillas and Tano Goya, of Argentina, still on the course.
Goya, already at six under, needs to par the 18th to play the weekend, joining 66 others who have made the cut.
The second round will finish at about 9.15am today and the third round will begin at about 10.30am with players going off split tees in threesomes.
In the absence of windy conditions, though, the course may remain defenceless to the touring pros.
The day’s play was tempered in the afternoon by a little more wind than Thursday, high humidity and a steady drizzle of rain. But it didn’t stop the birdies from falling.
It was enough to create a shake-up at the top of the leaderboard.
Ben Crane climbed into a one-shot lead, adding a spectacular 62 to his first-round 66, to post 128 or 14 under, a 36-hole tournament record.
His efforts were not without hiccups, as he dropped a shot on both the tricky par-four 14th and the par-five 17th.
But Crane made birdie on the short dogleg left, par-four No 10, his first hole of the day, and followed it up with three more before making the turn.
He then went on an impressive run, birdieing the first four holes, conquering the par-four 6th with an eagle two — holing out from the fairway — and adding a birdie on the par-five 7th for an impressive 29, seven under on Port Royal’s front nine, tying the tournament front-nine record.
Crane got in on a sponsor's exemption and is enjoying himself in Bermuda. But he said the hole-out was special: “No 6, par four, in the fairway, had about 115 yards, playing a little more than that.
“I think I was playing about a 118 shot. Hit a really quality distance wedge, it's four over my nine o’clock swing with my 51-degree wedge, a really quality shot. Sometimes you kind of picture them, you look up and it's, man, that's just like I pictured it, lined up with the pin, landed a few paces past the hole, spun back and went in.
“I was having an incredible day and then that happened. I was like, wow, this is all going my way. Really, really fun.”
He put his work in just in time to vacate the course before the rain quickened.
He would have been joined by Robby Shelton (63, 66) at the top of the leaderboard but for his fellow American’s dropped shot on the last.
Shelton finished the day one back, at 13 under with Adam Schenk (63, 66), together with Aaron Baddeley and Ben Griffin who both added a 64 to a first-round 65.
Also at 13 under and trailing Crane by a shot is first round co-leader Austin Smotherman.
He left it late in the round to finally make his first bogey of the tournament, on the short and relatively benign 380-yard par-four 5th.
He followed it with another bogey on hole No 9, wiping away two backside birdies, but carding a four-under 67.
The other first-day co-leader, Harrison Endycott, needed birdies at 17 and 18 just to close his round under par at 70. And because of the field’s abundance of scoring opportunities, it meant he tumbled down the leaderboard to 15th at ten under.
But he remains in touch, much like Arjun Atwal, whose eight under on Thursday, coupled with a quieter one under yesterday, leaves him five shots back, but well inside the cut line at nine under.
Europe Ryder Cup captain and former world No 1 Luke Donald will not be back for the weekend. A double-bogey six on his opening hole yesterday led to a one-over front nine that made it difficult to recover from an opening round of par 71.
Also taking the weekend off is the Champions Tour’s John Daly (71, 76), after beginning his morning with double bogeys on holes 1 and 2, and finishing his two days at five over.
One key to the week so far has been capitalising on the par-fives and par-threes. The latter proved to be the hardest on Thursday.
They included No 13 (235yds), No 16 (235yds) and the 8th hole (213yds) in that order — the only three holes the field played over par.
The par-fives were the easiest, with No 7 (507yds) very gettable, yielding six eagles and 89 birdies. No 17 (517yds) was next, followed by the 553-yard No 2.