MIAMI (AFP) – Ben Crane, trying to end an eight-year PGA victory drought, fired a nine-under-par 62 to seize a one-stroke lead after Friday’s second round of the PGA Bermuda Championship.
The 46-year-old American made nine birdies, two bogeys and an eagle to match the low-round of his PGA career and stand on 14-under 128 after 36 holes at the windy seaside Port Royal course in Southampton.
“Today was one of those special days, one of 100 where it just kind of all comes together,” Crane said. “So really cool to shoot 62.”
Australia’s Aaron Baddeley was in a second-place pack on 129 that also included Americans Adam Schenk, Ben Griffin, Robby Shelton and Austin Smotherman, who shared the 18-hole lead with an opening 62.
Crane, who made the field on a sponsor exemption, was happy just to be playing and extra excited to make the weekend in the title hunt.
“Couldn’t be more encouraged,” Crane said. “Played the best golf I’ve played in a long time and to be in this tournament is super encouraging. I don’t get in a lot.”
Crane won the most recent of his five PGA titles at the 2014 St Jude Classic. He missed the cut in seven of 10 starts last season and his last top-10 finish was eighth at the 2019 Puerto Rico Open.
Crane, who started on the back nine, opened with a birdie and answered a bogey at 14 with birdies and 15 and the par-3 16th.
After a bogey at the par-5 17th, Crane reeled off five birdies in a row, then eagled the par-4 sixth from 115 yards with a wedge and birdied the par-5 seventh before a pair of closing pars.
“That 29 on the back, I didn’t see it coming. Super fun day,” Crane said.
“On the second nine, started to get my swing going so I was hitting quality shots, hit a few balls close to the hole, making those 10-footers, couple 30-footers, holed a shot from the fairway… I was having an incredible day and then that happened.”
Playing partner Baddeley had eight birdies and a bogey in shooting 64. The 41-year-old Aussie seeks his fifth PGA title and first since the 2016 Barbasol Championship.
“Feel like the confidence is back,” he said. “Just a matter of just getting some starts. So it has been great.”
Australian rookie Harrison Endycott, who also shot 62 on Thursday, shot 70 to fall four adrift.
India’s 49-year-old Arjun Atwal, who shot 63 on Thursday in his first PGA round for three months following his father’s death, followed with a 71.