Originally created 04/01/04

Weir, Crane have different memories of last year's BellSouth



DULUTH, Ga. -- Ben Crane strolled along the back nine this week at the TPC at Sugarloaf and relived his memories from last year's victory.

Mike Weir soon will have the same opportunity at Augusta.

In the 2003 BellSouth Classic, Crane came out of the pack with a brilliant weekend. He made the cut by one shot, then shot 64 and 63 over the final two rounds for his first win on the PGA Tour.

His 29 on the back nine Sunday included an eagle on the par-5 18th and left him four shots ahead of the field.

"I couldn't have written it any better," Crane said. "Really a special, special nine holes, special place being back here. That's probably the best golf I've played."

While Crane was finishing his comeback, Weir was on his way to the Masters after missing the cut at the BellSouth by three strokes. He blamed the poor effort on "reckless golf," then moved down the road about two hours.

There, Weir beat journeyman Len Mattiace in a playoff to become the first left-hander to win at Augusta.

"I was hitting the ball so well here that I was going for everything," Weir said of his 76 and 73 last year in the BellSouth. "It was more strategy than anything else.

"Sometimes, that happens when you're playing well. You think you can hit it close on every hole. You can't do that."

Weir spent the last few weeks getting ready to defend his title. Since Augusta National favors a traditional draw from a right-handed player, Weir needs to fade his shots.

That, and work on his chipping and putting, filled up his practice time. He played well earlier this season - a run that included a victory in the Nissan Open - then took nearly a month off before last week's Players Championship.

He missed the cut there, but figures Sugarloaf will be good preparation for the Masters.

"This is a golf course that is forgiving off the tee, which Augusta is, too," Weir said. "But you have to be creative with your short game."

Last year, Crane seemingly only needed his putter in the final round. He made an 11-footer for bogey on the ninth hole, a putt that jump-started his round, then birdied three of the next four holes to get into contention.

He had the tournament well in hand as he stood on the 18th tee, two shots ahead of Bob Tway. With par the only score on his mind, Crane ripped a 357-yard drive down the middle of the fairway, leaving him only 190 yards to a pin protected by water.

His 7-iron stopped 20 feet past the hole, and he calmly drained the putt.

"Obviously, my putter was hot, things were kind of clicking," Crane said. "I think about that. It's fun to relive it a little bit.

"But I understand this is a completely different week, so I need to go out and prepare the same way and see if I can have another good week."

That mentality is the goal of Adam Scott, too. He held on to win The Players Championship by making a 10-footer to save bogey and avoid a playoff on the 18th.

He set up the drama by dumping a 6-iron in the water.

Still, it was Scott's first victory on the PGA Tour, and made him 6-1 worldwide with at least a share of the lead going into the final round. His scoring average in those seven events is 68.14.

"I have been able to see the last putt a couple of times now and the shot in the water, I try to forget that one," Scott said. "I am still really on cloud nine and I just kind of floated in this week.

"It is back to business again."