Golf: Torrance fails to catch Crenshaw: Scotsman's enthusiastic challenge collapses

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The Independent Online
BEN CRENSHAW has had three top 10 finishes in the last two years, all three of them victories, and yesterday he out- putted Sam Torrance to win the New Orleans Classic, his 18th career win on the PGA Tour.

Although the Scot outperformed Crenshaw from tee to green over the first 17 holes, Crenshaw seemed to astonish even himself as putt after putt rolled beautifully from all parts of the greens into the centre of the cup.

Crenshaw took a three-shot lead to the final hole, and Torrance, perhaps beaten down by watching so much perfect putting, misplayed the hole, sending his second shot far into the lake and making a bogey to finish at 11 under par, four behind Crenshaw.

Jose-Maria Olazabal, who began the day in third place, two strokes behind, had an adventurous day, with six birdies and three bogeys, but never threatened the leading pair until the two closing holes, which he birdied, holing out from a bunker on the last to finish ahead of Torrance at 12 under par, alone in second place.

Though this tournament ought to serve as a form chart for this week's Masters, Crenshaw's recent history seems to indicate that the 1984 champion at Augusta will miss the cut. Torrance, on the other hand, is playing superb golf, but too many of his putts lingered on the edge of the cups.

Olazabal goes to Augusta feeling very good about his ball striking. 'I played very well, but I had birdie chances from inside six feet on the first six holes and only made one.'

Torrance and Crenshaw started the day tied for the lead at 11 under par, and though the wind blew, a condition that Crenshaw described as rendering English Turn as hard as 'Chinese arithmetic', Crenshaw birdied the first, second and fifth holes.

Torrance's only birdie on the front nine came at the par-five second, when he tapped in from centimetres after nearly pitching in. Crenshaw had a two-shot lead over the Scot through the turn, but sent his second shot into the water on the 10th to set up a double bogey and drop back into a tie with Torrance. They both birdied the 11th, but Crenshaw pulled away by sinking two straight birdie putts on the 13th and 14th greens. There was a two-shot swing on the 14th, as Torrance missed a four- footer for par, his first bogey of the day. Crenshaw then burned the hole with his 30-foot birdie attempt at the 15th, allowing Torrance to gain a stroke and return the leading margin to two.

Nick Faldo did not enjoy Torrance's putting touch, and the Englishman shot a 74 yesterday to finish at one under for the tournament. He said: 'I played better than I scored. I'm working on better putting. Overall I'm happy though and feeling good about my prospects at Augusta.'

NEW ORLEANS CLASSIC Leading final scores (US unless stated): 273 B Crenshaw 69 68 68 68. 276 J-M Olazabal (Sp) 63 74 70 69. 278 S Torrance (Sco) 67 71 67 73. 279 D Paulson 74 62 75 68; M Springer 73 69 69 68; K Perry 69 72 68 70. 281 D Mast 71 69 74 67; C DiMarco 76 70 66 69; B Clampett 70 68 72 71; J Brodie 71 67 72 71. 283 J Flannery 73 72 69 69; G Day 72 68 72 71. 284 M Standly 68 71 77 68; M Bradley 72 74 69 69; L Clements 73 67 73 71. 285 D Martin 75 70 71 69; M Wurtz 73 71 71 70; H Sutton 72 68 73 72. 286 E Els (SA) 69 76 69 72; I Baker-Finch (Aus) 71 70 72 73. Selected: 287 N Faldo (Eng) 72 71 70 74. 290 J Parnevik (Swe) 73 69 73 75.