Good things come to those who wait. And that certainly goes for late Fathers Day gifts.
And just ask Craig Stadler if waiting one week made any difference.
As the 51-year-old Stadler strode the fairways of the Nashawtuc Country Club just outside Boston on a Sunday afternoon in late June, his mind wasnt thinking about belated gifts, or even his own golf game for that matter.
Just one week removed from Fathers Day, the man affectionately known as the Walrus was indeed in pursuit of his second Champions Tour victory of the 2004 season. As he tried to chase down the likes of Tom Kite and Tom Purtzer in the final round of the Bank of America Championship, Stadlers thoughts, however, were 430 miles due west in the town of Findley, N.Y.
There, his 24-year-old son Kevin was in the hunt at the Lake Erie Charity Classic on the Nationwide Tour and Craig knew what a win there would do for his son.
Kevin, who despite being named the Pac-10 golfer of the year while at USC (his father also is an alum), was in a bit of a pickle when he arrived for the Nationwide Tour event. Although he had made the cut in the U.S. Open the prior week, he had no status on any tour and a victory would give him what his father knew would be invaluable stability for a young golfer.
So as Craig was putting the final touches on a superb 8-under-par 64 to come back from eight strokes to win the Bank of America by one stroke, his eldest son was locked in a playoff, his future teetering in the balance.
Sitting in the scoring tent at the Champions Tour event, Craig followed the live coverage on The Golf Channel and happily watched as his son held on to win after four holes of a sudden death playoff.
Although coming a week late, it was a Fathers Day gift worth waiting for.
I dont think another win will ever come close to this, said Stadler, who went on to win three more times on the senior circuit and be named Player of the Year. This is incredible. I am so happy for him and so proud of him. I never even dreamed of us both winning on the same day!
The double dip was the second time that a father-son combination had won PGA Tour sponsored events on the same day. The first time coming in March of 1999 when David Duval won the PGA Tours Players Championship and his father Bob won the Champions Tours Emerald Coast Classic.
The individual accomplishments Ive had dont come close to this, proclaimed the proud Stadler, a telling quote for sure, as he can count the 1982 Masters as one of his 13 PGA Tour victories. Hes struggled with his game and struggled trying to find out where to play, but he hung in there and hes worked hard at it.
Kevin, who happened to get in the Lake Erie Charity Classic on a sponsors exemption, used the same wry humor his father is known for in explaining his take on the days improbable results.
After regulation someone said he (his father) was either leading or right there. It didnt distract me because he usually does pretty well on Sundays out there, said Kevin, who pocketed $81,000 for the victory. The only thing I figured was if I won, hed probably win, because hes always trying to one up me.
Actually, Kevins proud papa tried to deflect as much attention from himself as possible, going as far as crediting his sons afternoon in the spotlight as the main reason for his furious Sunday finish.
The whole thing was due to the fact that I wasnt paying much attention to my golf game at all, said the elder Stads about his nifty nine birdie, one bogey effort. I was looking for the marshals and tour officials driving by with updates every other hole.
Meanwhile, after watching his dad hoist trophies for many years on the PGA Tour, son Kevin finally got a little taste of what it was like to visit the winners circle.
'It's enormous,' said the little Stadler, er, younger Stadler, who with the win was guaranteed playing privileges for the remainder of the 2004 Nationwide Tour season. 'To get to play out here, it's better than chasing little minis. I actually know where I'm going to be able to play. It's going to be great.'
He was speaking at the time, of course, of the comfy confines of playing on the Nationwide Tour as opposed to the various mini-tours that dot the U.S. landscape. But as it turned out, that talk was premature as that special day in late June propelled Kevin not only to another Nationwide Tour win just two weeks later, it also eventually landed him third on the season-ending money list.
Suddenly, father and son are both exempt on the PGA Tour for the 2005 season. Craig through his surprising victory at the 2003 B.C. Open and Kevin from that magical win in Findley, N.Y.
Now, imagine if you were Craig.
Youve just won a golf tournament with an impeccable final-round 64 against a field that includes Hall of Famers Kite, Arnold Palmer, Gentle Ben Crenshaw and Gary Player. Then you realize that not only isnt it the biggest win of your career but it doesnt even take top honors at the family's supper table later that evening.
For Craig that isnt a problem at all. In fact, he probably wouldnt mind a second helping.
By the looks of it, neither would his son Kevin.