Ben Crane disqualified for having stickers on clubs

Veteran PGA Tour player Ben Crane was penalized 8 strokes Thursday for having two nonconforming clubs in his bag during the first round of the Web.com Tour’s Albertsons Boise Open, and then was disqualified Friday morning after new information came to light.

Crane, 41, received two 4-stroke penalties for carrying a driver and a 6-iron that had “shot sticker” decals on the clubs that he uses to collect data during practice. Crane had not used either club in the round, but after talking to rules officials Friday morning, it was determined that the second violation should have been reported sooner, leading to the disqualification.

Crane, a five-time PGA Tour winner, brought the infraction to the attention of rules officials after playing his first hole. Had he noticed the violation before putting out at his opening hole, he would have received a two-stroke penalty for each infraction.

According to PGATour.com, Web.com officials consulted with the USGA to see if the second penalty was necessary since it fell under the same rule. It was determined they were separate violations.

Crane played the remaining 16 holes in 3-under-par to shoot a 5-over-par 76. He had added 4 strokes to his scores on the first and second holes.

“The rules staff did a great job and tried just to make it a 4-shot penalty, but the rule stands,” Crane said afterward. “Eight-shot penalty. It’s a bummer, but it’s the rules.”

But Crane still felt uncomfortable about the situation and discussed it further with Jim Duncan, the head of rules on the Web.com Tour.

“He came back this morning and said he knew he had the 6-iron, and he’s got to make a declaration that the club is out of play,” Duncan said. “Either to a member of the committee, which he could have told [rules official] Andrew Miller, or to one of his fellow competitors. When he didn’t make that declaration, at that point he knew he had to take that club out of play, and that’s ultimately a disqualification penalty.”

Crane is playing in the Web.com Tour Finals because he finished 147th in the final PGA Tour FedEx Cup standings. That meant he lost his PGA Tour card, but he can regain it by finishing among the top 25 players in a four-event series of tournaments. He tied for sixth last week at the opening event, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship.

He was second to last in the field after the 76 on Thursday and was unlikely to make the 36-hole cut.

“You can still learn while you’re playing,” Crane said. “You can pick up something for the next tournament. I just tried to keep plugging away and make the best of it.”

Crane violated Rule 4-1 because it deems even a decal on the clubface as an attachment — making the club nonconforming. The penalty for such an infraction is 2 strokes per hole, up to 4 strokes.

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