April 07, 2014
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
- Craig Stadler (l) and his son (Kevin) are the first father and son to play in the same Masters. (Harry How/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Craig Stadler found himself in the press building at Augusta National on Monday for the first time in more than two decades.
In fact, the last time the 1982 Masters champ was summoned for a pre-tournament press conference, the interview session was likely held in that big old semi-circular steel quonset hut. The noise from the steady rain outside would have been almost deafening.
But Stadler, who has reached a point in his career that he simply hopes he doesn't "embarrass myself," wasn't here to discuss his game. After all, he's pinning his hopes on his son Kevin, who is making his Masters debut after winning the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
And this week marks the first time a father and son have played in the same Masters.
"I'm so proud of the way he's played the last three, four years," Craig said. "Been close a zillion times and finally got it done, so it's a very special week, but I'm just going to be out there slashing around, trying to make the cut and he's going to be trying to win the golf tournament. In that regard it's a little bit different."
Kevin was 2 -- and in attendance -- the year his father beat Dan Pohl in a playoff and won his Green Jacket. His memories of that week understandably are minimal, and he recalls Craig's status as a Masters champion as a "tag line he earned when I was too young to recognize it."
Even so, the Masters soon had a special place in his heart.
"I couldn't wait for April every year, when I was a kid, to come out here and just run rampant around the golf course and just watch him and watch all the kids of other people play," Kevin said. "I used to love tagging around at tournaments, just watching the golf. It was what I got the most enjoyment out of when I was a kid."
Craig, who has pictures of his young son putting with Hubert Green in front of the Old Course Hotel at St. Andrews, is more than happy to let his son have the limelight now. In fact, the 13-time TOUR champ said he's "thinking this might be it" as far as the Masters is concerned.
"I never nudged," Craig said when asked how much he wanted to play with his son. "I probably gave him a little crap about it one in awhile."
"He's had his part done for 35 years," Kevin said. "(This is) not the easiest golf tournament to make your way into unfortunately."
Father and son played two holes on Monday before thunder, lightning and steady rain prompted tournament officials to close Augusta National. Craig remembers the match as being tied after he made a par and a birdie.
"That birdie I made on 2 doesn't count, huh?" Kevin asked.
The dad feigned surprise. Kevin didn't make that putt, did he? "Of course I did," said the son.
Kevin went on to say he doesn't remember ever beating his father.
"I don't know if he had a special pencil or how it worked, but it was always the case when I was growing up."
Craig smile slyly. "Just a good eraser."
And should the Masters work its magic and the two find themselves paired together in the first two rounds?
"He'd be the first one and the last one to want to go out and kick my butt," Craig said.
And what if dad played better?
"That would be cool to watch, too," Kevin said. "I have no issues with it at all."
The Stadlers comment before the Masters