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Lance Armstrong dubs Ben Crane "The Putter"

January 25, 2011 |  5:39 pm

Earlier this month, when Ben Crane, the defending champion of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines, was warming up for this season in Hawaii, he played a round of golf with another athlete who was preparing for a new season, cyclist Lance Armstrong.

"Lance has become a friend, we have a very close mutual friend," Crane said. "We ended up playing golf together every day for four or five days. It was fun."

Crane said Armstrong isn't a polished golfer, either on the course or in his discussions of the game.

"He doesn't have the golf terminology," Crane said. "We got to like the second hole we played together and I made a 10-footer and he looks at me and 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."

Crane said that Armstrong didn't appear overly worried about an ongoing federal grand jury investigation that seems to be targeting doping in cycling and possibly Armstrong.

"It's just become a way of life for him," Crane said. "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. He sure didn't seem like he had a lot of concern about it. He was pretty focused on training and hanging out with his family and playing a little bit of golf."

-- Diane Pucin, reporting from La Jolla