Once he became eligible to play a few Asian tournaments, Ben Crane wasn’t immediately sure he wanted to go halfway around the world for golf. It’s already paying off in a big way.
Crane drove the 292-yard 15th hole to within 8 feet for an eagle, then won the inaugural CIMB Asia Pacific Classic on Sunday with an 8-foot birdie putt on the last hole to close with a 2-under 69 and beat Brian Davis of England by one shot.
“I had a great opportunity with that putt (on 18) which I’ll always remember,” Crane said. “I was so nervous and I was just praying. I just wanted to hit a good putt and to see it go into the hole. It felt so good.”
Crane, who won the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in January, finished at 18-under 266. He earned $1 million, and heads to Shanghai for the WGC-HSBC Champions and its $7.5 million purse.
The PGA Tour and Asian Tour sanctioned the Asia Pacific Classic, although with only a 40-man field, it does not count as an official PGA Tour victory for Crane. He still earned world ranking points, and likely will move into the top 35.
Davis went birdie-eagle-birdie at the finish to shoot 66 and earn $575,000.
Martin Laird of Scotland (66) and Luke Donald of England (67) tied for third at 16 under. Ernie Els (66), Robert Allenby (64) and Rickie Fowler (67) were among those at 14-under 270.
Mardan Mamat of Singapore shot 69 and also finished at 14 under, the low finisher among the Asian Tour players at The Mines. He earned $237,500, the biggest check of his career -- on his 43rd birthday, no less.
“It’s a good birthday gift, but I’m a bit disappointed with my putting,” Mardan said. “I couldn’t hole any putts.”
Crane nearly let this one get away, making three straight bogeys to fall one shot behind Laird. Another short par 4 down the stretch again made the difference. Crane’s tee shot settled 8 feet from the cup and he regained the lead with his eagle putt.
“I just regrouped and didn’t get ahead of myself,” Crane said. “I knew I was still in the tournament. I hit an unbelievable shot on 15 with my driver and that kind of turned things around. It was an exciting turnaround. That was an unbelievable finish.”
Davis pulled even with his final birdie, but Crane avoided a playoff by sinking another crucial putt.
“I played good all week and kept myself in the hunt,” Davis said. “Finished strong, but it just quite wasn’t good enough. I am quite disappointed.”