Stadler Continues To Roll
Sept. 8, 2004
Pebble Beach, Calif. - It's been 22 years since Craig Stadler had a season like this.
Stadler--a former USC golf All-American--won his second straight tournament and fourth of the season Sunday, firing a 6-under 66 for a three-stroke victory over Jay Haas at the inaugural The First Tee Open at Pebble Beach Presented by Wal-Mart.
Stadler, coming off a win at the JELD-WEN Tradition last week in Oregon, shot a 6-under-par 66 for a 15-under 201 total to match his career best for wins in a season. In 1982, he won four PGA TOUR events -- the Tuscon Open, Masters, Kemper Open and World Series of Golf.
'It actually was pretty easy,' Stadler said. 'Jay missed some early putts and after the 12th hole I pulled away a little bit.
'It seems like all the putts I aimed at the hole went there. We couldn't have asked for a better week. Just incredible.'
Stadler opened with an even-par 72 at Bayonet Golf Course and surged into contention with a 9-under 63 at Pebble Beach on Saturday. He had 13 birdies and two eagles in the last two rounds, and his winner's share of $300,000 pushed his tour-leading money total past $1.9 million.
He and junior partner Aaron Woodard, a 16-year-old junior at East High School in Denver, won the pro-junior competition by four strokes at 22-under 194. Woodard's father, Tom Woodard, was a PGA TOUR player in the 1980s.
'I've been hitting the ball well all season and just making putts,' Stadler said. 'But my goal this week was not to think about my game. My goal was to get him (Woodard) to the third round. I was able to do that.
'I wasn't thinking at all about my game and that's the way it is with golf. When the putts go in the hole, it's a pretty easy game.'
The 50-year-old Haas, added to the U.S. Ryder Cup team as a captain's pick, closed with a 68 for a 12-under 204 total.
'I didn't hit enough good shots down the stretch to go after him,' Haas said. 'But I don't feel like I lost the tournament. I feel like Craig beat me.
'You can see he's on a roll. You can look and see it when he swings. It looks like he's going to hit a good shot and he does.'
Haas will take a week off from the Champions Tour before participating in the Ryder Cup from Sept. 17-19 at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
Irwin and Tom Kite shot final-round 70s and tied for third at 209.
David Eger, the former PGA TOUR and USGA official who held a one-stroke lead after the opening round, shot a final-round 70 and tied for fifth with D.A. Weibring (71) at 6-under 210.
Arnold Palmer, playing in just his eighth tournament of the season, shot a final-round 82. One of four principal owners of Pebble Beach Company, Palmer turns 75 on Friday.
Craig Stadler earned 300 Charles Schwab Cup points as a result of his victory today and moved into the top spot in the season standings. With just seven official events left in 2004, Stadler now has 2,972 total points while Hale Irwin moves down into second place with 2,802 points. Tom Kite remains in third place with 2,001 points. After the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Sonoma, Calif. next month, the player accumulating the most points on the year will earn a $1 million annuity from Charles Schwab.
Craig Stadler won for the seventh time on the Champions Tour in just 31 career starts on the circuit and claimed his third overall TOUR title in California (1980 Bob Hope Desert Classic, 1994 Buick Invitational of California). Stadler also picked up his fourth victory of the 2004 season (The ACE Group Classic, Bank of America Championship, JELD-WEN Tradition), a first for him since 1982 on the PGA TOUR. He also became the first player since Hale Irwin in 2002 to win four times in a single year.
Craig Stadler's best finish ay Pebble Beach on the PGA TOUR was when he was second to Jim Simons in the 1982 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am. He also was the medalist in the 1974 California State Amateur at Pebble Beach.
With his $300,000 check Sunday, Craig Stadler increased his leading 2004 earnings total to $1,909,606.
Craig Stadler also became the first player since Bob Gilder in 2002 (Allianz Championship/Kroger Classic) to win back-to-back events on the Champions Tour. Last week, Stadler won the Champions Tour's final major of the year, the JELD-WEN Tradition in Portland, Oregon.
Craig Stadler and his 16-year-old partner Aaron Woodard, from The First Tee of Denver chapter, won the Pro-Junior portion of The First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. The duo combined to shoot a 54-hole better-ball score of 22-under 194, four strokes better than three other teams.
Craig Stadler was 15-under-par 129 (63-66) for his last 36 holes of this event, all at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Stadler made 13 birdies and two eagles over his last two days at Pebble Beach and made just one bogey over his last 27 holes. He had just 50 putts over his last 36 holes and totaled 80 putts for the week, tops in the field of 78 professionals.
Craig Stadler's final 36-hole score equaled the lowest last two-day total in relation to par on the Champions Tour this year (Fuzzy Zoeller/Craig Stadler -- MasterCard Championship).