The Upshot: Stadler claims first victory at Waste Management Phoenix Open
February 02, 2014
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
- Kevin Stadler picked up his first career victory on Sunday at TPC Scottsdale. (Greenwood/Getty Images)
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Like father, like son.
After 239 career starts, Kevin Stadler got his first career win Sunday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, joining his father Craig as a winner on the PGA TOUR.
They are the ninth father-son combination to win on TOUR and the first since Bill Haas won in 2010 to join his father Jay. The victory also earns Stadler an invitation to the Masters, where he will get to play alongside his dad, who won the tournament in 1982.
“That was in the forefront of my mind when I was out there,” said Stadler, who closed with a 68 to win by one over Bubba Watson and Graham DeLaet at TPC Scottsdale. “He's obviously getting on in his career.”
The elder Stadler, who will turn 61 in June, said Sunday this year will be his final Masters.
What a way to go out.
While Kevin admitted he isn’t as close to his dad as he once was, he will be more than happy to join him in April. He went to Augusta National several times as a kid and played there once during college but didn’t want to go back until he earned a spot in the field.
“He probably would have liked it better if I had gotten there five years ago so he (could) call it quits then,” the younger Stadler joked. “He's been telling me for a couple of years I need to hurry up and get there before he calls it quits.”
Sunday, there was no quit in Stadler. With the win, he picked up 500 FedExCup points to move to seventh in the standings.
After a double bogey to fall out of the lead early on the back nine, Stadler steadied himself with five straight pars before a birdie on the par-4 17th, where he regained a share of the lead.
While Watson faltered, sending his approach shot on the final hole off the back of the green en route to a bogey, Stadler didn’t. He hit his approach shot to 11 feet and two-putted for par and won when Watson missed his par putt from 5 feet.
“It's awesome,” the elder Stadler said of his son’s victory. “I never doubted him for a minute. I'm his biggest fan. I’m proud of him. He probably doesn't know it, but I love watching him play on TV and on the Internet.”
Now he’ll have the opportunity to watch him from even closer this April.
“I kept saying, you know, when he gets in, that's my last (Masters),” Stadler said. “I'm going to have to get in a little better shape for the next three months. It's going to be great.”
Bubba Watson was in position for his first victory since the 2012 Masters.
Then he drove it in the water on the par-5 15th, bogeyed the 16th and failed to get up-and-down to save par on the 18th.
“Misclubbed on 16,” Watson said. “We thought it was downwind but obviously it wasn't. Should have hit one more club.”
Tied with Stadler as the two played the final hole, Watson hit his wedge from 120 yards too hard and the ball bounded off the back of the green. He chipped to 5 feet but underestimated the break on his putt and it never came close to going in.
“I thought I hit a good putt but obviously I misread that too,” he said. “I have to work on a couple things.”
It also wasn’t the first time he came up short against Stadler. The two met in a playoff in 2004 on the Web.com Tour and Stadler came out on top there, too.
I played solid all week, got to keep practicing! 2nd is first loser!! #GolfIsHard— bubba watson (@bubbawatson) February 3, 2014
DELAET TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE (AGAIN)
For the second straight week, Graham DeLaet birdied the 72nd hole and looked like he might be headed to a playoff. But for the second straight week he came up one stroke short.
Last week, he shot a 68 to finish second at the Farmers Insurance Open. This time, a second-straight 65 wasn’t enough.
“I have been playing well for the last few months, it seems,” DeLaet said. “I really feel like I worked super hard in the offseason, and it's nice to see it paying off.”
DeLaet hasn’t finished worse than eighth in his last four starts dating back to the beginning of the 2013-14 season.
PHIL’S SUPER BOWL PREDICTION
Phil Mickelson was in a hurry to get home to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday.
“I like the Seahawks,” he said. “I think that good defense usually beats good offense, and I think that the man-to-man coverage that the Seahawks provide is going to make it difficult for that quick release of Manning.” Mickelson, it should be noted, is also a Chargers fan. The Broncos beat San Diego to reach the AFC Championship Game and eventually the Super Bowl.
As for when we’ll see Mickelson next, he’ll play the upcoming AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-am, then take two weeks off while his kids are on vacation from school.
That means he’ll miss the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship and the Northern Trust Open. As a result, he’ll add The Honda Classic -- a tournament he hasn’t played since 2002 -- to his schedule.