Sunday, May 30, 2010

Crane Soars at Colonial

Star Telegram article

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Day With the Pros - Part 2

Ben and Heather Crane's charity event

A Day With the Pros - Part 1

Ben & Heather Crane's charity event

Ben Crane at Home 5/25/10

New video from the PGA Tour ...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ben Crane on The Golf Channel tonight

4U client, Ben Crane will be on The Golf Channel's Inside the PGA Tour tonight. Check your local listing for times.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Valero Texas Open

4U client Steve Lowery if tied for 3rd position at 4 under par at this week's Valero Texas Open. Lee Janzen currently sits at T37 at even par.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Day With the Pros 5/10/10

After a great week finishing T4 at THE PLAYERS Championship, Ben Crane hosts a charity event A Day With the Pros. The event benefits two charities that are near and dear to the Crane's heart: Love 146 and Hope Farm.

This event boasts an impressive list of PGA golfers to include Lee Janzen, Zach Johnson, Hunter Mahan, Chad Campbell, KJ Choi, Stewart Cink, Pat Perez, Brett Quigley, Tom Pernice and John Rollins.

The schedule consists of lunch, a golf clinic and then a shotgun start at 1:00pm, followed by dinner and an auction.

For more information regarding Ben's charities, click

Friday, May 7, 2010

Crane's Ratings a Process

Crane's ratings a process to solid 67 Ben Crane fired a 5-under 67 in the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship. He trails by one.May. 6, 2010

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Ben Crane had in the neighborhood of 20 fives on Thursday during the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship.

Not on his scorecard, though. He certainly wouldn't be one shot off the lead in the PGA TOUR's signature event if that were the case.

Actually, Crane rated every shot he hit in that round of 67 Thursday on a scale of 1 to 5 -- with 5 being the best. As he walked from green to tee, Crane quietly signaled his agent, Tommy Limbaugh, who recorded the numbers on a sheet of paper with his own thoughts, as well.

"I'll get into position where he can find me," Limbaugh said. "He'll give me a hand signal (with the number of fingers signifying the rating), in the order of the shots. ... Our goal each day is to have only 4s and 5s."

On Thursday, Crane, who won the Farmers Insurance Open earlier this year, succeeded on all but four shots, which he gave 3s. The ratings aren't made on a whim, either. There is a process to each shot that helps determine how Crane ranks them -- and it has nothing to do with birdies and bogeys.

"For the first time in my career I know exactly what to think about," Crane said. "I know exactly what I should be doing before, during and after each shot. It really has nothing to do with results and has everything to do with just sticking to what we set out to do before the year.

"So I'm better equipped than I ever have been."

Each hole is a program; the whole day a process. Every shot begins with the pre-load, a mental checklist of things designed to free Crane up to execute as well as possible. The actual load follows as he uses his left brain to pick a target and a club -- but the thinking should end as he hits the shot.

"Now the left brain really should be retired, and then the right brain you should just relax and try to execute through there,'" Crane explained. "So then it should be very quiet through my brain, just going through my alignment checks, my waggle progression -- hopefully that's not too long -- and then the imprint, which is just rehearsing as if I had done it perfectly."

Crane, who was two tournaments into this process when he won in San Diego this year, has a team of eight, including Limbaugh and his mental coach Lanny Bassham, guiding him this year. Limbaugh was a football coach at Texas Tech, Ole Miss, Alabama, Duke and Kentucky before he became an agent and motivational speaker.

During the Children's Miracle Network Classic, Crane stayed at Limbaugh's house and the two had time to talk about a variety of subjects. Among other things, Limbaugh feels golfers don't practice like most pro athletes. Golfers tend to be repetitive on the range rather than actually hitting the shots required for the round.

So Crane -- who Limbaugh likens to a linebacker in terms of his mental toughness -- asked his agent if he could help him learn to practice better. The team went to San Diego in November and Limbaugh did some old-fashioned coaching, complete with a slide presentation.

"If you watch him warm up tomorrow -- he changes clubs, he changes direction each time instead of just get a 7-iron and banging away at it,'" Limbaugh said. "... It's my opinion it's a good thing to do because you're processing your shots on the practice range that you're carrying on to the course. You're practicing what you're going to be doing in the game itself."

Ben Crane shot 5-under 67 in the first round of The 2010 PLAYERS Championship.
Tuesday at the Masters was a perfect example. Instead of playing nine holes on Augusta National, Crane did it on the club's state-of-the-art practice range that features a variety of greens as targets rather than yardage markers.

As he practiced, Crane tried to replicate the tee shot and second shot he would go out on Thursday and hit on each hole during the actual tournament. When he had "played" all nine holes, he went to the chipping area and attempted the chips on the ones where he didn't hit the green. Then Crane headed to the putting green to duplicate the putts.

"I thought it was important to rest his mind, his body and his spirit and really be mentally ready to go," Limbaugh explained. "... (When we were done,) we'd completed the entire hole that way where every shot was meaning something."

In his last two PLAYERS Championships, Crane has only shot two rounds over par while finishing in ties for sixth and fifth respectively. He knows he can go low on the Stadium Course, too, after opening with a 65 a year ago on a course he calls a "great test.

"If this is not the best golf course we play all year, I don't know what is," Crane said. "... The margins are small, and so I think that everything is amplified a little bit more on this golf course, mistakes, great shots, and certainly the way you think."

That's why the process will be so important to his success this week at TPC Sawgrass. Crane has only two goals for the year: No. 1 to glorify God and No. 2 to "execute the process as if it's primary."

Crane, who made eight birdies and three bogeys in the first round, hasn't been able to recreate the mindset he had at the Farmers Insurance Open. He took a big step in the right direction on Thursday, though, when he hit all but two fairways and 16 of 18 greens while using just 28 putts.

"Last year I had a great first day and then some solid rounds after that but nothing great," Crane said. "I think that I'm equipped now to just go out and do my best more than I've ever been. Just trying to separate myself from the results and living and dying by each shot certainly tends to free me up."

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Players' wives raise awareness in battle against sex-traffic trade
Within 10 minutes, Heather Crane was physically sick to her stomach.

Her husband, Ben, was back in the United States playing in the World Golf Championships-CA Championship at Doral Resort & Spa. But Heather had left that heady world of pro sports and creature comforts to go to Southeast Asia to help raise awareness about the horrors of child sex trafficking.

She was joined on the trip by Dowd Simpson, the new bride of Webb Simpson, and Pat Perez's wife, Athena. On this singularly disturbing night in March, the three women found themselves in one of Bangkok's three red-light districts.

Together, Anything's Possible
The PGA TOUR's charity website gives users the ability to access information and donate to charities that their favorite players support. Ben Crane, whose wife Heather was one of the three players' wives who visited Cambodia, has a charity page that can be accessed by clicking here. For the main page of the PGA TOUR's charity website, please click here.

Learn more about Love146
Love146 is an organization that seeks to end child sex slavery and exploitation. To find out more about this organization, please click here for the official website.

"The one we went to was surrounded by a night market so you had normal people and children all around," Heather said, shaking her head. "You had open karaoke bars and then you'd have an S&M establishment.

"Then you'd have the kind of place ... where the girls are lined up (behind a glass window) by row according to their beauty and their price. How horrible would that be to have to do that for a living and be on the bottom level because you're one of the ugly ones?"

As they walked through the red-light district, Perez said she felt like she was in some sort of a twisted "Stephen King carnival." Women in bikinis gyrated and danced in glass walkways above the bars and alleys below.

"Every time you walked by any storefront, men walked up to you shoving menus in your face with pictures, descriptions and prices," Athena said. "I felt like I was in a nightmare. It was really creepy."

Crane, Simpson and Perez traveled with Rob Morris and Lamont Hiebert, who co-founded Love146, an international group dedicated to eradicating the sexploitation of children. The organization takes its name from a defiant little girl, identified only by the number 146 on her red dress, seen being sold at one of those brothels during an undercover operation.

The group spent a week in Cambodia, The Philippines and Thailand, three countries where this scourge of inhumanity is most prevalent. They saw safe homes as well as the searing poverty that makes families and children susceptible to these predators' promises in the first place. They learned from experts in the field but more importantly from those who lived it first-hand.

"The trip was just a constant combination of hope and despair," Heather said softly about 12 hours after she landed in Miami and was reunited with her family.

"You have a bunch of mixed emotions," Dowd agreed. "In the first place, you are repulsed at the whole thing. At the same time, this is not much different than what is happening in our own backyards."

Heather first went to Southeast Asia in 2005 with her husband. She and Ben met Hiebert, a Canadian singer and songwriter whose Christian rock band is known as Ten Shekel Shirt, at an outreach in southern California that year.

His cause soon became the devoutly religious Cranes' cause. They have hosted a pro-am for the last four years and have raised more than $1 million to help build sanctuaries like the Round House the group visited outside Manila.

Like Heather, Dowd and Athena are active in the PGA TOUR Wives Association. Dowd had been on mission trips when she was in high school and has friends who worked domestically to help stamp out sex trafficking. This trip, however, took all three out of their comfort zones.

Courtesy of Love146In Cambodia, it's the simple pleasure of eating watermelon that can bring a little joy to children.For Dowd, the opportunity couldn't have been more well-timed. She and her husband Webb, who is in his second year on TOUR, had been talking about finding a way to serve.

"We prayed about it one night and the next day we saw Heather and she said that she was going on this trip," Dowd said. "It was like a complete open door. It was like a prayer was answered."

Athena heard about the trip 10 days before Heather and Dowd were scheduled to leave. She ran into Heather at a baby shower and asked if she could come along. Athena doubted her friend thought she was serious at the time.

"It was a scary thing, thinking about going to a third-world country," Athena acknowledged. "In your mind you're going to ghettos, slums, you're leaving the comforts of home. It's something I had to overcome.

"I had to convince Pat. He was worried about me ... but he saw how much I really, really wanted to go. ... I bought the ticket the week before we left. I said if I can make it there and get back, it's fate. So I went online and found a ticket. I was like, OK, that's it, I have to go."

And now that they're back, their lives have been changed forever.

"I went in not really knowing what to expect," Dowd said. "I came out feeling well-educated and on fire and wanting to do something. It was more of a culture shock coming home. We went from such poverty and depravity to a life of such prosperity. I can wear what I want and eat what I want. I have everything I need at my fingertips."

"I am making it a point not to forget this," Athena agreed. "... It's definitely changed how I feel about other people. Cheesy as it seems, there is not enough caring and compassion in the world."

The women first saw hope at the Round Home, which is located in a secure location about two hours outside of Manila. When they got out of the car, the group was greeted by 16 girls, all dressed in pink, who had been rescued from brothels.

Each room in the colorful round building opens up to a circular garden in the center. There are three beds and stuffed animals in each room, as well as a library and a tree house where the girls assemble for therapy sessions.

Heather CraneDowd SimpsonAthena PerezSeeing a nearby volleyball court, Perez suggested a game and it turned out to be the "best icebreaker," Crane said. "(There was) instant laughter." The teenagers cheered when someone scored a point and then laughed at their own mistakes.

"We're playing this game for like an hour and all we can think of is we can't believe these girls have been through what they've been through,'" Crane said. "I know there's deep-rooted things there, but they're truly getting help and being restored. ... It was just a sweet, sweet interaction."

After the game, Perez, Simpson and Crane toured the Round Home and then sat in the library to listen to the girls sing and play guitar. Among the favorites was the hymn "Coming Back to the Heart for Worship." A shy 15-year-old named Fe sat down next to Crane and talked about her dreams of a new life.

"My eyes welled up with tears as the reality sunk in that these trafficked girls are real people -- full of hopes and dreams, all just wanting to be loved," Heather said.

"To be in a life like that -- to have your name stripped from you -- and to be able to overcome that is amazing," Dowd added.

Later, Dr. Gundelina Velazco, the resident therapist, told the women more about Fe, who had recently been rescued by the IJM, the International Justice Mission. Drugged and sold as a virgin, Fe had been repeatedly trafficked -- and even raped by a doctor who was examining her. The scars on her wrist were from an unsuccessful suicide attempt.

The youngest girl, who had arrived at the Round Home the previous Thursday, was just 13. When her parents died, her uncle had taken her into his family. He later passed away and his girlfriend sold her to an abuser. She once dug a hole deep into the ground in a desperate attempt to either "hide or die," Heather said.

The rescued children could see there was hope, though. A young girl named Diana had come in so suicidal the previous year that she tried to jump in front of a car. She went through therapy and later returned to her village on the island of Sabu where she fell in love with a childhood friend.

"Not only does he know about her past, but his whole family came by boat with him as he proposed to her," Heather said. "That is such a story of redemption in itself and she can now work with the girls -- not only do they trust her, they can see that a dream can truly happen. That a man can still really love and want you. That's one of the most beautiful stories."

Dowd remembers Diana picking an old brown leaf off the ground.

"She said, 'That's how I used to be when I first came here -- dead, I had no life,'" Dowd said. "Then she pointed to a tree and said, 'That's me now. No matter how many branches fall, I'll be strong."

On Wednesday, the group flew from Manila to Bangkok where they met with Dr. Glenn Miles, who is the director of Asia Prevention for Love146. For more than two decades he has been an advocate for the rights of abused children in Southeast Asia.

"A lot of people blame it on those parents, those wicked parents who must sell their children," Heather said. "But so often, it's coercion and manipulation and fear. They really don't know what's going on. So they've come up with videos and a curriculum for schools, to teach -- so you know when a guy approaches you and says he'll give you money so you can get a job or go to school and send payment back to your family to support them, that's not legitimate.

"But these people fall for those things so easily because they are so desperate and so poor."

Courtesy of Love146In spite of her environment, there is hope in the face of this Cambodian child.Heather had what she called a "total a-ha moment" when the group met two Americans who are working with the MST Project in Bangkok. They go into the red light districts at night and approach the men -- who are overwhelmingly tourists -- and ask them to participate in a survey, which in turn leads to a discussion of why they are there in the first place.

"Their findings are that these men are hurting and they're lonely and they are trying to go to these brothels to fill some void that is not really going to be filled there," Heather said. "And so, to me, I get so caught up in the bad-guy thing. What's he doing here and a sicko and that sort of thing, the whole mentality, but a total light bulb went off with me, that they're hurting just as bad.

"So these guys think that men are part of the solution. If you can change their ways, ultimately decreasing the demand, saving souls might make a difference."

Dowd said the men that the MST Project confronts in the red-light districts often are there because they confuse intimacy with sex. "They tell the men that they know an intimacy far greater than the physical," she said. "And some of the men are finding Jesus right there in the red-light district."

Athena remembered one burly man who told them that he wasn't scared of sexually transmitted diseases. He'd been having unprotected sex for 30 years. He also told them he thought the young girls liked what they were doing -- that they liked having sex with white men.

"A lot of men, some women, too, think it's their choice," Athena said. "That's what people don't really understand. So many of these girls start as teenagers -- they're tricked into the sex trade, kidnapped, brainwashed.

"Then when they get into their 30s, that's all they know. Their pimp, their handler, has convinced them that's all they are good for."

Heather said the issue of child sex trafficking is second only to the sale of illegal drugs and hardly confined to Southeast Asia. Sri Lanka is known for young boys sold into prostitution, Cambodia for children. Young girls in Eastern Europe are lured to the United States with promises of modeling careers.

"I read a quote last night and it might have even been written by Martin Luther King but it was, one person can change the world and millions of people can create a movement," Heather said. "And that's really what we're trying to do, is create a movement of social awareness that this does happen and it's unacceptable to exploit children for sex."

That said, she knows there is a long way to go. Heather was talking with an upper class Thai man and his wife on the plane. He owned a paint shop and his wife was the proprietor of a clothing store. They employ five live-in maids at their home.

"I was telling him about what we were doing and he said, you mean, like pedophiles?" Heather recalled. "He went, what? He didn't even know it happened and his country is known for being one of the worst.

"So I think perhaps, maybe it's a coping mechanism, to just turn your ear and close your eyes and not even engage and I think that's kind of the worst thing that we can do is to pretend it doesn't even exist."

In the five years since her first trip, Heather sees increased awareness of this disturbing issue -- particularly on college campuses where "they have more of a heart for social justice," she said.

"This trip was definitely harder than my first because I wasn't a mom," Heather said. "Seeing 2-year-olds, my daughter's age, begging for food, it's heartbreaking."

That searing poverty was strikingly evident when the group went to Poipet, a Cambodian border town known for trafficking where they visited two schools committed to helping at-risk children. At one, called Safe Haven, the kids can learn to make furniture and repair motor bikes.

Courtesy of Love146The players' wives found plenty of inspiration to raise awareness of the problems in Cambodia.The other school, an after-school facility, was located at the end of a long dirt road lined by ramshackle huts with rice paddies in the back.

"It's amazing the resilience and surviving day to day," Heather said. "We saw one old woman with a wired thing where she'd been barbequing bats. Six bats. She offered us a taste."

"She was so proud of that meal she had cooked," Dowd said.

The Crane's pro-am -- which also benefits HOPE Farm, a Christian community in Fort Worth, Texas, that disciples fatherless boys -- will be held Monday, May 10 at the Vaquero Club in Westlake, Texas. The pro-am is during the week of the Valero Texas Open.

"Ben has an incredible platform because of what he does," Heather said. "People might pay attention a little bit more and it might grow to the movement we're hoping and it will continue to take off."

One of Heather's favorite quotes comes from Gary Haugen, who is the founder of the International Justice Mission.

"He said it's not about where is God, it's where are God's people," Crane said. "Sometimes it can be overwhelming, but then you think, wow, can anything really happen here. ... It's just sharing what you're learned and connecting with other people who care."

Heather Crane and Dowd Simpson and Athena Perez made that connection when they took a step outside the glamorous world of the PGA TOUR.

What they saw during that week in Southeast Asia was ugly. It was repulsive. It made them sick.

But they want to make a difference. And now they have a story to share.

Ben Crane's Interview after Round 1

The Golfer and The Slugger

The Golfer and the Slugger, New York Times 5/5/10

Ben Crane and Mark Teixeira, a first baseman for the Yankees, met in 2006 at the home of the golfer Justin Leonard. “Eighty percent of our conversations are about our faith and our relationship with God,” Teixeira said.
Published: May 5, 2010

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Heather Crane recently scrolled through the text messages on the phone of her husband, the golfer Ben Crane, and stumbled upon a few that raised her eyebrows. Sent to the same number, they were like echoes: “God before results. God before results. God before results.”

Crane, who tees off Thursday afternoon at the Players Championship, composed those words of encouragement for his close friend Mark Teixeira during the Yankees’ World Series run last fall, leading his wife to ask playfully, “Why don’t you take a piece of your own advice?”

Teixeira, the Yankees’ first baseman, said he has kept the messages on his phone because, honestly, with spirituality like that, who needs swing thoughts?

“Ben is kind of a mentor to me,” Teixeira said by telephone Wednesday before the Yankees’ 7-5 victory over the Orioles. “Whenever I get too wrapped up in my baseball world, Ben makes it very easy to get back to what’s important, which is living in the moment.”

The slugger and the golfer are kindred spirits, gregarious and generous men who bond over the blessed trinity of faith, family and fine wine. Talking to them, one gets the impression that sports, far from being the tie that binds them, is perhaps their weakest link.

“When we talk, we steer our conversation around material things,” Crane said. “It’s always God, family, work.”

They have been friends since meeting at a backyard barbecue in 2006 at the home of the golfer Justin Leonard in the Dallas development where they all lived.

Teixeira, 30, and Crane, 34, have remained close even as Teixeira, drafted by the Rangers in 2001, has moved from Texas to Atlanta to Anaheim to New York. Their families vacation together and were at Great Guana Cay in the Bahamas in late 2008 when Teixeira was mulling free-agent offers from the Angels, the Red Sox, the Orioles and the Yankees.

To get his mind off baseball, Crane arranged snorkeling and spear-fishing excursions and lobster dives. “He said, ‘The only thing I can’t do, Ben, is get hurt,’ ” Crane recalled, laughing.

When they returned to Texas, Teixeira agreed to an eight-year, $180 million contract with the Yankees that included a $5 million signing bonus.

Crane, a three-time PGA Tour winner who has earned more than $12 million since turning professional in 1999, said, “It’s so fun for Mark and I to have this relationship where we hold each other accountable.” He added, “We just connect on so many levels.”

They both have two children under the age of 5, though Crane quipped that Teixeira, whose wife, Leigh, is pregnant, “is about to pull ahead of us.”

One can finish the other’s reading of Scripture. In a recent conversation, they held to the light Romans 12:2, a passage that has been interpreted as being about offering the body as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God.

“Eighty percent of our conversations are about our faith and our relationship with God,” Teixeira said. “It’s very refreshing to pick up the phone and if you went 0 for 4 or hit two home runs, it doesn’t matter. The conversation’s going to be: How’s your relationship with God? How’s your family?”

Each brings to his job a focus that no ringing cellphone can rattle. Teixeira’s game-day routine includes turning off his cellphone as soon as he walks through the clubhouse door.

Crane carries two cellphones, and as soon as a tournament starts, he turns one off. Only those closest to him can reach him on the other phone, which he monitors after each round.

Both men are process oriented. Although golfers consider themselves independent contractors, Crane has borrowed a page from team sports and hired a support staff that, in addition to the caddie Joel Stock, includes a swing coach, a short-game coach, a manager, a sports psychologist and three physical therapists.

His team started a meticulous practice routine, with Crane thinking his way around the golf course on Tuesday and Wednesday so he can play without fear or reservation once the tournament starts. “My practice rounds used to be a lot more casual,” Crane said. “Now they are a lot more intense.”

Teixeira spends hours studying the game before he takes the field. “We both spend a lot of practice hours on the process, so when it comes time to play, our natural talents shine through and we let all the hard work pay off.”

Both are known for laboring. Teixeira is a notoriously slow starter, as evidenced by his .178 batting average. And Crane was voted the slowest player on the PGA Tour in a recent Sports Illustrated poll of his peers — and not for the first time.

“If that’s the worst thing someone can say about Ben, I think he’s doing all right in the big picture,” Teixeira said. He added: “I’ve never seen Ben upset. I’ve never heard him say a cross word to anybody. It’s very rare to find somebody in professional sports like him.”

In January, Crane won the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego. “I watched every stroke of that final round,” said Teixeira, who texted him afterward and said the win was well deserved.

On weeks when Crane is in contention, the Yankees’ clubhouse is Crane’s auxiliary gallery. “We’ll put golf on in the clubhouse,” Teixeira said, “and we’ll all root for him.”

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tommy at THE PLAYERS Championship

Tommy and Ben Crane on #17 during today's practice round of THE PLAYERS Championship