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Crane leads as storms wreak havoc in Memphis

ESPN staff
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Ben Crane was one of just a handful of players to finish their second round at the St Jude Classic © AP
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Ben Crane's back is okay, and his putter couldn't be working much better.

The combination helped him shoot a five-under 65 on Friday to open a six-stroke lead in the St Jude Classic before heavy rain delayed play twice and forced the suspension of play for the day.

Crane birdied his final hole on Thursday night for a 63 and rolled in a 45-footer for birdie to start the second round on Friday morning. By the end of the day he had moved to 12-under par at TPC Southwind, matching the winning score from last year.

"I certainly didn't see this coming," Crane said. "But you know when you're putting well, I started to feel like I was a little more in control of my ball, just felt like I was tightening my draws and fades a little bit. I had access to some holes I haven't this year and so gosh, it's been an incredible two days."

Poulter: I'm bored sh*tless

Ian Poulter says he is 'bored sh*tless' of the rain delays at the St Jude Classic © Getty Images
  • Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter lead a strong British contingency at the St Jude Classic.
  • McDowell, US Open champion in 2010, completed his round and moved to three-under par, while Poulter is on the same score with one hole of his second round yet to play.
  • Padraig Harrington is one back at two-under but has only played two holes of his second round, and Paul Casey and Lee Westwood are even par. Casey has played one hole of his second round with Westwood yet to start.
  • "This rain storm delay is great fun," wrote Poulter on his Twitter feed. "Now on the last hole with hopefully a chip and a putt to go. My pillow would be nice right now."
  • He added: "I'm bored shitless sitting outside because it's minus-five in the locker room. Awaiting to chip and putt and get out of here."
  • Click here for the full leaderboard

Crane has spent the past six months changing his swing to protect his back. A four-time PGA Tour winner, Crane's last win came in 2011 at the McGladrey Classic and his best finish this year was a tie for ninth in the Humana Challenge in January. But he was in such pain he had a therapist with him for treatment during the round.

"It's been a really, really hard year, racking my brain what's going on, what's going wrong and have I changed that much," Crane said. "You start wondering, 'Am I going to get it back.' So this is super encouraging. My wife said last night, 'Looks like you still got it.' Because you wonder. But anyway, it's been a fun start."

Carl Pettersson and Jason Bohn were tied for second at six-under. Pettersson has one hole left to play, and Bohn two. Davis Love III carded a 70 and Billy Horschel 68 to move to five-under.

Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen were unable to start the second round. Mickelson, winless in his last 19 events since the Open Championship, opened with a 67 on Thursday, and Goosen had a 66.

Friday got off to a slow start with 60 players needing to wrap up the first round with the second started 40 minutes later.

Lightning delayed play at 1pm for an hour before play resumed for just 15 minutes. Mickelson had just gotten to the tee when the horn blew again. Fans were sent home before a severe thunderstorm drenched the course, filling bunkers, fairways and cart paths with water.

Finally, play for the day was suspended just before 5pm. Players are due back at 7am so they can make the cut for the third round.

Love was glad to be done before the weather moved in even at five-under, and he doubts Crane will run out to 24-under. This course where John Cook won at 26-under in 1996 was redesigned to a par of 70 after 2004.

"So he's off to a great start and we'll have to run him down," Love said about Crane. "He's a great putter, and these greens are perfect, so he's got the advantage on us right now, but just hang in there."

Crane had perfect timing for most of his rounds. He played most of the first round after the lengthy delay on Thursday afternoon, which left nearly perfect scoring conditions with little wind and soft greens. He was in the first group off No.1 starting the second round, and he birdied rolling in a putt with a break of more than four feet for the first of 24 putts.

He followed up his opening birdie by sinking a 22-footer for birdie on No.7. He hit his approach from 147 yards out to three feet for birdie on nine to reach 10-under through 27 holes. He sunk a 14-footer on the par-3 11th with the island green before rolling in a nine-footer for birdie at 13. His eight-foot birdie on the par-5 16th put him at 13-under.

But Crane hit into a bunker at 18 and missed a seven-footer to save par on way to his first bogey in two rounds.

"How do I keep this going?" Well, certainly just keep doing what I'm doing, and hopefully the same game shows up, and obviously continuing to putt well helps your score," Crane said. "I think that's the key.

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