'Smallrus' finally wins at 239th tour start
Son of major champion Craig 'The Walrus' Stadler triumphs in Phoenix Open
The Smallrus finally hoisted a big PGA Tour trophy.
Kevin Stadler, the 33-year-old son of major champion Craig “The Walrus” Stadler, won the Phoenix Open on Sunday for his first PGA Tour victory.
Stadler won when playing partner Bubba Watson missed a five-foot par putt on 18.
“It was a little weird way to win a golf tournament,” Stadler said. “I fully expected him to make the putt. I would have rather made mine to win it.”
Stadler closed with a three-under 68 for a one-stroke victory over Watson and Canadian Graham DeLaet. Watson shot 71, and DeLaet had a 65.
“He beat me,” Watson said. “He’s a great player.”
Stadler won in his 239th tour start, earning a spot in the Masters – a tournament his father won in 1982. The Stadlers are the ninth father-son winners in tour history and will be the first to play in the same Masters.
“It’s going to great for me because it’s really my last one,” said Craig Stadler, a 13-time PGA Tour winner with nine Champions Tour victories. “I kept saying, ‘When he gets in, that’s my last one.’ I’m proud of him. It’s awesome.”
Kevin Stadler finished at 16-under 268 at TPC Scottsdale, his home course. Raised in Colorado, he played in Denver Broncos colours, wearing an orange shirt and blue pants and hat.
What was he thinking when Watson was standing over his par putt on 18?
“How long the play-off was going to take and how long until I can watch the football game?” Stadler said.
Stadler likely will move up high enough in the world ranking to get one of the last spots in the 64-man Match Play Championship this month outside Tucson.
Stadler’s previous biggest win was in Australia in the European Tour’s 2006 Johnnie Walker Classic. In that event, he hit a 3-iron to a foot for an eagle on the final hole for a two-stroke victory. He also won the Argentine Open that winter and has four Nationwide Tour wins.
“It’s been a long time since I won anything,” Stadler said. “It’s pretty special.”
Watson is winless since the 2012 Masters.
“I was a challenging day,” Watson said. “Again, it’s the same thing, just waiting on every tee box and waiting on every shot.”
Hunter Mahan and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama tied for fourth at 14 under. Mahan, the 2010 winner, finished with a 68, and Matsuyama shot 69.
Phil Mickelson closed with a 71 to tie for 42nd at three under. Lefty was making his 25th appearance in the event he won in 1996, 2005 and 2013.
“My game is not far off, even though the score says that it is,” Mickelson said. “It was just a fraction off.”
He showed no signs of the back pain that forced him to withdraw at Torrey Pines, and will play next week at Pebble Beach. “Back feels great,” Mickelson said