PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. Ben Crane should have known what was coming when he rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt on the first hole. He kept right on pouring them in until he had 7-under-par 65 and a one-shot lead in The Players Championship.
Crane made four birdie putts longer than 20 feet, kept his ball on land throughout another wild opening round today on the TPC Sawgrass and wound up atop a leaderboard devoid of the biggest stars.
He had a one-shot lead over John Mallinger, Alex Cejka and Richard S. Johnson, with a large group at 67 that included Retief Goosen, David Toms, Camilo Villegas and Scott Verplank, who had two eagles.
Tiger Woods opened his round with four consecutive birdie chances inside 12 feet and missed them all. He wound up with 71, keeping alive his streak of never breaking 70 in the opening round at this elite event.
Phil Mickelson hit iron off the 18th tee but it worked out beautifully with an approach to 5 feet for birdie to salvage 73.
Defending champion Sergio Garcia shot 71.