Ben Crane has established a four shot lead at the top of the leaderboard at the St Jude Classic, with bad weather continuing to play havoc with the tournament.
Crane had to wait over 28 hours after his second round finish to start his third round and was only able to complete six holes today before play was stopped, as he looked to further build upon the lead he had created for himself at the midway stage.
It is testament to his composure and nerve, therefore, that he played as well as he did when coming out for his third round today. The American could have let the pressure get to him after such a break between rounds, but appeared to be calm – shooting one-under-par through the six holes he played today to lift himself to 13-under for the tournament.
The 38-year-old is a four time winner on the PGA Tour, but far from a high profile star and was not expected to be in this position at the start of the week, so it is a credit to him that he has dealt with it so well after seizing the lead right from day one of the competition.
His one birdie today came on the par four first and it was enough to reaffirm his status as favourite to win the tournament, after his impressing showing over the first two days.
His position looks even better when considering his two closest rivals, Troy Merritt and Peter Malnati. The pair have made only six out of 23 cuts, combined, in the tournaments they have played so far this year, but have belied their poor form this week.
Merritt lies at nine-under and Malnati on eight under, but it would be somewhat of a surprise if they continue to maintain their challenges, with the duo both looking for an elusive first PGA Tour victory.
Merritt, though, looks comfortable with his new found surroundings and Malnati has continued his momentum in his brief showing today. The former is at two-under through the first seven, whilst the latter is one-under through the same amount of holes.
It means they are both in position to catch Crane should he slip, but they will be looking to ensure the continued stoppages due to bad weather do not hamper their progress.
Of the more high profile players in the event Paul Casey and Phil Mickelson are both in tied 11th position, at five-under-par, as they look to play themselves into form for the US Open next week, whilst Ian Poulter is slightly further back at three-under.
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