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January 25, 2011

Ben Crane


THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Ben Crane, our defending champion of the Farmers Insurance Open. Ben, welcome back, place of good memories for you. Get you to look back on last year, and talk about your anticipation to defend?
BEN CRANE: Yeah, I'm just excited to be back. Just Torrey Pines is one of the most beautiful places we're at all year. The golf course is in unbelievable shape, the best I've ever seen it, maybe including the U.S. Open. It's in unbelievable shape.
Great weather, the greens are rolling very true this week, and the rough is long, so it's going to be a U.S. Open-like test of golf. I'm very excited to play it this way. Looks like we'll have good weather the rest of the way as well.
THE MODERATOR: Look back at last year, and what it did for you the rest of the season?
BEN CRANE: Yeah, obviously it was a little bit of a surprise win for me. So early in the year, and feeling like my game was just starting to come into shape. I was excited about 2010, but certainly didn't expect to win early like that.
I think that's one of the reasons why I was able to win is because I wasn't thinking about winning, and was able to just play and keep grinding away. I stuck to my process, and I was able to really holed -- I look back, and I holed a lot of key putts and some long putts. I remember some putts going across the green and going in the hole. That always helps, always saves strokes.

Q. I saw you play the ground of golf with Lance Armstrong in Hawaii. What was that like? Had you ever met him before and how did that come to be?
BEN CRANE: Yeah, Lance has become a friend. We have a very close mutual friend that we were over in Hawaii with. So we ended up playing golf together every day for four or five days. It was fun.
Yeah, his terminology -- he doesn't have the golf terminology. We got to like the second hole we played together, and I made like a ten-footer, and he looks over at me and he says, You're a putter, right? And I kind of looked at my friend and I go, you're a what? He goes, You're a putter, right?
And I look at my friend and I go, yeah, I guess actually that's what I am. He goes that's your thing. That's the thing you do, right? And I said, yeah, that's a good way of looking at it. He's so funny. He doesn't have the golf lingo. It was like a 3-year-old kid. So, anyway, we had a great time. We worked on his game a little bit.

Q. Is he any good?
BEN CRANE: For a non-golfer, he's very good. But he's just never really played the game. He said I wasn't very good at ball sports, so I got on the bike and that kind of worked out for me. So now he's actually training to do some triathlons and stuff. Anyway, it was fun to hang out a little bit.

Q. Did he seem at all concerned about the grand jury and being under investigation?
BEN CRANE: You know, I think it's just kind of become a way of life for him. I know it's something of concern, but he certainly feels like he's in a good position. He's never tested positive for anything. So I don't think they really have a lot to go on. It's kind of hearsay.
He sure didn't seem like he had a lot of concerned about it. He was pretty focused on his training, and hanging out with his family, and playing a little bit of golf.

Q. If you weren't a putter, what would you like to be?
BEN CRANE: If I'm not a putter, what would I like to be (smiling)? I don't know. Maybe just a winner. Nothing wrong with that. I don't know. That's a good -- you know what, let me think about that one. That's a good one.

Q. I wanted to ask you not so much about winning this tournament last year, but did winning in Malaysia do anything for you even though it was from the standpoint that you won twice in one year, and make you feel like a more confident player?
BEN CRANE: It did. Malaysia was really, really fun for me. It gave me a real boost of confidence. I came to the last hole, needed birdie, hit a great drive, hit a great second shot, then I had a ten-foot putt to go into a playoff or win the tournament. My mental coach said there are two ways to imprint things. It's an actual imprint or an imagined one. The best ones are the actuals.
I got up over that putt, and I felt I was praying for peace. I had a tremendous amount of peace when I got up over that putt. I just felt so relaxed and in the moment. I just completely remember like it was yesterday, just completely relaxing and letting it go. Looked up and the ball went right in the hole. It was like this source of adrenaline went through my body. I was so pumped. It was such a fun way to win.
I won my second tournament, and my second to last tournament of the year, so it was just a really fun way to finish off a great year. I really had no regrets last year. I had the best year of my career certainly. That was really special being so far away from home and to go over there and play so well.

Q. You mentioned last year you came in here not really thinking about winning and it maybe caught you by surprise so early in the year. This year do you have a different mindset? Are you thinking about winning even though it's early in the year?
BEN CRANE: Here we are talking about winning, so, yeah. I'm thinking about it casually here. But I'm not really expecting a lot this week. What are the chances that someone actually defends their title when they're not Tiger Woods? It doesn't happen very often.
I'm remembering what happened last year with very fond memories. I've played my tenth year on TOUR, and I've won three and a half times. I don't know if Malaysia, sometimes people count it, sometimes people don't. I count it.
My goal this week is to enjoy the week. We've got a lot of close friends here, and it's going to be a beautiful tournament. The weather is fantastic. My goal is to look at the ocean a lot. Thank God for creating this place and putting me in this place, and just enjoy the weekend. Kind of not try to expect too much about the golf.

Q. What are the players saying in the locker room about the disqualifications and the scorecard issues and all those things that have popped up with Camilo and Harrington in the past few weeks? What is the best way to fix it as far as what is being said among the members of the cloth?
BEN CRANE: Yeah, I think that I've heard the two-stroke penalty kicked around. There is certainly a disadvantage for players that play well and they're on TV all the time versus a guy like me. I might show up on TV once every six weeks at the most. Truth hurts sometimes (smiling).
I kind of like the two-stroke penalty thing. Certainly I think they were kicking around the idea of two-stroke penalty. No DQ, add two.

Q. Add two.
BEN CRANE: I kind of agree with that. Especially there is no intent. These guys, there is no intent there to break a rule. It's like a simple I didn't know. Then it's calling it in after the fact.
The whole thing is when you're playing basketball, your friend's going in for a lay-up or whatever and you foul them but you say I didn't foul them. Like in basketball, you don't call in and change games. I don't know. It seems like it's outside of the game when people are doing that.
But I also understand the argument of, you know what, the rules of golf govern the game. So I see both sides. I don't know if I can give you a great answer on that so basically I just spent the last two minutes saying nothing at all.
Does anyone feel better? I just wasted your time. Here we are, timing situation again (laughing). Okay, I'm on the clock in the media room. Someone throw a flag. Get this guy out of here, please.

Q. The young players that are the under 25 set, who impresses you the most and can you talk about why?
BEN CRANE: One more time?

Q. Of the young players on the TOUR, there are new players that have come up of out in the last year or so or broken out in the last year, who impresses you the most and why?
BEN CRANE: I don't know if I have seen enough of the young players. I only played the Hyundai, and I haven't played since. I've taken the last couple weeks off.
There are a lot of players, lot of new faces out here, young, I know a lot of young hitters. We're just getting better athletes. The Nationwide Tour is bringing out just awesome talent.
I played on the Nationwide. I think it's just the best training ground, better than any other sport has. I think it's just fantastic. So I don't know how to answer your question.
Certainly the kid who won last week, Vegas, I haven't even seen him hit a ball. But I understand he's very long and talented and there are a lot of guys right behind him. I'm excited to meet the guys and play with some of them.

Q. Have you been on the north course yet?
BEN CRANE: No, I have not. Just the south. It's longer though. I know about all that tee additions and stuff like that.

Q. Is there a different feel here with Tiger here considering what he did the last time he played here? Can you sense anticipation or a buzz going around?
BEN CRANE: Certainly he's been the best player in the world for a long time. Now I think he's number three. But certainly we've seen things out of him that we've never seen out of another individual who plays golf.
It's awesome having him here. This is, if not his favorite course, definitely one of them. Yeah, it definitely brings a level of credibility and just excitement about the tournament.

Q. Were you surprised to see the pairing of he and Rocco?
BEN CRANE: It's random, so (laughing). It's totally random. I think it's awesome. Really cool. Is it random?

Q. If you can't win, would you like to see Tiger win because so many people perceive him as a savior of sorts for golf?
BEN CRANE: I think Tiger's success is big for the game of golf. I think absolutely seeing him play well of recent is great for the game. I know I'm a Tiger fan. I'm a big fan of his golf. He's fun to watch.
Certainly he's right up there of guys that I like to watch play, and guys that, if I got done early, I'd definitely like to watch him play.

End of FastScripts

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