Ben Crane already had to be in a bit of shock that he’s relegated to the Web.com Tour Finals, but that’s nothing compared to what happened Thursday.
The opening round of the Albertsons Boise Open, the second of four Web.com Tour Finals events, produced plenty of drama, although not the kind Crane was looking for.
The 41-year-old would start his day at Hillcrest Country Club’s 10th hole, but before the day was out he had been hit with two four-shot penalties. Yes, EIGHT shots added to Crane’s score.
As it turned out, Crane had decals on his driver and 6-iron. He first noticed the decal on his driver at the tee box at No. 11, and informed a rules official.
The presence of the “dot sticker” decal, which Crane uses for data collection in practice according to the Web.com Tour’s Kevin Prise, made the club non-conforming. Under Rule 4-1, that meant a two-stroke penalty per hole the non-conforming driver was in the bag.
While Crane had yet to start the 11th, he was deemed between holes, meaning two strokes for having the club in the bag for the 10th and two more for bringing it to the 11th. Thus, Crane was assessed a four-shot penalty.
And that was only the half of it.
A few holes later, the 14th to be exact, Crane noticed a decal on his 6-iron. After informing the rules staff, Crane was once again assessed a penalty. This one was considered a separate rules breach, and Crane was penalized again under the same rule. It was another four-shot infraction, as that is the maximum amount punishable by the rule.
Eight shots in penalties, which meant a pair of quadruple bogeys on his card to start rather than two pars, for Crane over a non-conforming factor. Brutal.
Crane has been a member of the PGA Tour every season since 2008 and has won on that circuit five times. Being relegated to the Web.com Tour Finals to earn back his card after a 147th-place finish in the FedEx Cup standings was already a big blow.
Add on this, and you could understand if Crane was in a dour mood. Remarkably, he took the eight shots in stride.
“The rules staff did a great job and tried just to make it a four-shot penalty, but the rule stands,” Crane told Prise. “Eight-shot penalty. It’s a bummer, but it’s the rules.”
A bummer for sure, but at least Crane isn’t letting it tank his attitude.
The 41-year-old actually was still able to post a 5-over 76 despite being docked eight shots. That leaves him 132nd out of 133 players and probably in need of a score in the low 60s to make the cut, but that means Crane played a 3-under round aside from the eight strokes of penalty.
And this could’ve all been worse: If Crane had used the driver or 6-iron before reporting the decal (making them non-conforming), he would’ve been disqualified.
Crane is probably facing an early exit in Boise, but he’s still in good position to earn back his PGA Tour card for 2017-18 after opening the Web.com Tour Finals with a T-6 finish at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship (the top 25 on the Web.com Tour Finals money list at the end gain PGA Tour cards).
A tough Thursday, but Crane chose to see the positive in it all.
“You can still learn while you’re playing,” Crane said. “You can pick something up for the next tournament.”