Kevin Stadler wins Phoenix Open
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Kevin Stadler used to tag along with father Craig at the Masters. This year, they’ll be teeing it up together at Augusta National.
Kevin saw to that Sunday, winning the Phoenix Open for his first PGA Tour title.
Yes, “The Smallrus,” who has grown up and out to match his father’s listed 250 pounds, and “The Walrus” are set for the ultimate father-son golf trip.
“That was in the forefront of my mind,” Kevin said. “He’s obviously getting on in his career. ... He probably would have liked it better if I had gotten there five years ago so he can call it quits.”
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 60-year-old Craig, the 1982 Masters champion. “I kept saying, ‘When he gets in, that’s my last one.’”
Stadler won in his 239th tour start, avoiding a playoff when playing partner Bubba Watson missed a 5-foot par putt on 18.
“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 3-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.”
Kevin Stadler finished at 16-under 268 at TPC Scottsdale, his home course.
“I live two stoplights away,” Stadler said. “Actually, one stoplight away.”
After Stadler and Watson each saved par when they hit into the water on the par-5 15th, Stadler tied Watson for the lead with a par on the par-3 16th hole. Watson hit into the front left bunker on the stadium hole and his 6-footer missed to the left.
At the 347-yard 17th, they each drove the green and two-putted for birdie from 90 feet — Watson holing out from 18 feet and Stadler from 5.
On the par-4 18th, Stadler hit his 110-yard approach to the back right pin to 10 feet. Watson drove into the right rough and hammered his 120-yard second over the green.
Watson’s shot from the trampled rough ran 5 feet past the hole. After Stadler missed his birdie try and tapped in for par, Watson’s par try slid by the left side.
“I thought I hit a good putt, but obviously I misread that, too,” Watson said.
Stadler birdied the par-4 ninth to take a one-stroke lead over Watson, but fell behind with a double bogey on the par-4 11th. Stadler took a penalty stroke for an unplayable lie after driving into a Buckhorn Cholla and missed a 4-foot bogey try.
“Cactus and short putt and all that was on one hole,” Stadler said. “Eleven has had my number for years. I butcher that hole every year.”
Stadler likely will move up 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.
DeLaet bogeyed the 15th after hitting into the water, but rallied with birdies on the final two holes. He also tied for second last week at Torrey Pines.
“I have been playing well for the last few months,” DeLaet said. “I really feel like I worked super hard in the offseason. It’s nice to see it paying off.”
Phil Mickelson closed with a 71 to tie for 42nd at 3 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.
The event drew an estimated 563,008 fans, breaking the seven-day record of 538,356 set in 2008. The tournament drew a golf-record 189,722 on Saturday and 60,232 on Sunday.