Stadler wins first Tour title on Watson miss at 18

By Associated PressFebruary 2, 2014, 11:25 pm

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - 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 5-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 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.''

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.


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''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 colors, 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 playoff was going to take and how long until I can watch the football game?'' Stadler said.

After Stadler and Watson each saved par after hitting 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 bladed his shot from the trampled rough into the bank next to the green and it 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 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.

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.

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry