- The Washington Times - Monday, June 13, 2005

Ben Crane could have been discussing his best finish since his lone career victory in 2003 after yesterday’s final round of the Booz Allen Classic.

Instead, he was answering questions about why playing partner Rory Sabbatini breached etiquette and played ahead of Crane at the 17th hole at Bethesda’s Congressional Country Club.

Earlier in the round, Crane and Sabbatini were warned they were playing too slow, though Crane was responsible for the tardy pace. Although the pair played a bit faster for the rest of the round, Sabbatini became irked by Crane’s deliberate approach and opted to putt out at No.17 and stalk off to the 18th tee before Crane walked on to the 17th green.

“Rory was frustrated because we were on the clock, and I understand that,” said Crane, who shot 67 to tie for second with Adam Scott and Davis Love III at 12 under. “At 17 we were back in position because we were on the tee and they were still on the green. Technically we’re off the clock. Rory just wanted to keep playing, and that’s fine. I understand he’s frustrated, and I feel bad. I know I can’t change the situation, but I’m the one that caused the problem.”

Sabbatini, who was jeered by the crowd, did not speak to reporters after his round.

Crane, who missed more than two months with back problems earlier in the year, possesses one of the tour’s most plodding paces. It’s something he is attempting to improve, but clearly his efforts weren’t enough to pacify Sabbatini, who shot 70 to finish 9 under.

Funk rises and falls

Fred Funk made an early charge, reaching 8 under before bogeying the 11th despite hitting into the fairway. After missing a short birdie putt at No.15, he needed three shots to get out of a bunker at No.16 and wound up with a double bogey en route to a final round 71.

“It leaves a bad taste when you make double from the middle of the fairway,” Funk said. “I made two bad swings from the middle of the fairway and played those 3 over. If I don’t do that, I have a pretty good week. I was hoping to get to 10 under. That was kind of my goal, double digits. Instead I drop all the way back. It’s a little frustrating, but at least I’m playing better.”

Funk, who won the Players Championship earlier in the year, still had a decent week after rallying to make the cut. It could give him momentum going into the U.S. Open next week at Pinehurst No.2, but Funk is wary the USGA will make the North Carolina course too punishing.

“I’m not a big fan of the USGA philosophy,” Funk said. “There’s a line between rewarding good shots and good shots not being rewarding, and they seem to cross the line where good shots don’t get rewarded.”

Kite doesn’t fly

Tom Kite, the surprise third-round leader at age 55, struggled to a 74 yesterday to finish in a tie for 13th at 7 under.

Kite birdied No.1 to get to 11 under, but he wound up making five bogeys and wasn’t a factor. His putter abandoned him at times, stifling what chance there was he would win on tour for the first time since 1993.

“I’ve been playing smart golf, aggressive golf and putting very well, and I was very tentative out there today,” Kite said. “You don’t win golf tournaments being tentative.”


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