PINEHURST, N.C. (June 15, 2012) -- The third time was the charm for Ben Crancer in the 40th Southern Junior Championship. After solid play in the tournament the past two years, the 18-year-old, Texas A&M-bound Crancer, from Kirkwood, MO., won it Friday on the Country Club of North Carolina’s Dogwood Course.
But not without a stiff fight from 15-year-old Pinehurst phenom Joshua Martin, who dogged Cranser all the way to the final green. The two had been the co-leaders following the first two rounds and Crancer poked his nose in front with a 10-foot birdie putt on the third hole, as the rest of the field fell away to leave a virtual 2-man race for the crown. Remarkably, the two matched scores for the next 14 holes and went to the par-five 18th still separated by that same, single stroke.
Both players reached the green in regulation, but had long, uphill putts. Crancer faced a 96-footer and figured he would have to get down in two to seal the championship. He cozied it inside two feet for a near-certain par. Martin ran his approach putt six feet past and missed coming back to leave Crancer a 2-shot victory. Crancer’s closing 71 gave him a 6-under-par 210 total and earned an automatic berth in next month’s 106th Southern Amateur in Little Rock.
“I think that’s the longest putt I’ve ever faced,” said Crancer. “I’m glad to win over Josh. He’s a good player.”
In the 13-14 age division, Brett Barron of Suwanee, GA., posted a 219 total for a whopping 7-stroke victory.