Stadler Finally Where He Belongs

By George WhiteJune 24, 2003, 4:00 pm
TOLEDO, Ohio -- It was obvious Craig Stadler was finally where he wanted to be. He joked, he laughed, he told stories about the old days and the old rounds. He turned 50 on June 2nd, and life as a Champions Tour member has never been better.
I see myself in the role of coming out here, supporting the tour and playing a lot, he said, that ever-present grin playing at his mustachioed face. As far as entertaining ' or entertaining value ' you are going to get what you got. Its not going to change any.
There are people that enjoy that. And there might be people that dont, but so be it.
Stadler has played twice on the Champions Tour. His first tournament was a major ' the Senior PGA Championship. Last week he played the Farmers Charity Class near Grand Rapids, Mich. He didnt really come close to winning either, finishing in a tie for 15th at the Senior PGA at Aronimink and then tying for 18th at Grand Rapids. But he is adjusting, slowly but surely, and at Grand Rapids he sizzled Sunday, finishing the tournament with a red-hot 64.
I really played well, admitted Stadler. My longest ' other than one putt I made from 20 feet ' the next longest birdie was about five feet. I missed it three or four times from six feet.
In his first Champions event, the course at Aronimink was drenched and played abnormally long. But he was adjusting after a year on the regular tour that has been a bust ' 10 times entered, four missed cuts, three withdrawals, and three times finishing 42nd or worse.
And Stadler was beginning to wonder if he would ever be able to play this game again when he shot 73 and 72 the first two rounds at the Farmers Charity at Grand Rapids.
I just played miserably the first two days, he said. And then I played great on Sunday ' which was good.
Because you see all of these guys that you have played with a long time and you pretty much knew a lot of them you could beat back then ' and you should be able to beat now. And they are just kicking your butt for two days. But it was great seeing all the guys I havent seen in a long time.
Stadler has an interesting history at this Inverness course. Back in 1973 he won the U.S. Amateur as a Southern Cal student. Superior putting was what did it, he said.
All I remember is, I would like to get some of those memories back, because I made everything in 73, Stadler said with a chuckle. I hit it horribly, but I made everything. This would be a nice week to make putts, no doubt about it.
That was the year that Stadler beat both the reigning British Amateur champion, Dick Siderowf, and the reigning U.S. Am champ, Vinny Giles, in two Saturday matches.
There are a lot of good memories, Stadler agreed.
This brings back memories of not playing very well, but putting just out of my mind for five, six days. And I think, as I remember, everybody I played hit it better than I did. I hit it all over the lot. I had this big wicked 80-yard slice going into every hole. Everything inside 20 feet I made, and I made every hole every day.
Finally, they got fed up and I warmed down. I wouldnt mind making one or two of those a day here. That would be OK.
Stadler was a winner 12 times on the regular tour, the last being in 1996 Nissan Open. He won the 1982 Masters and won five other times around the world.
But this is suddenly a new life, a new career, with a bunch of old friends. He will gladly take it.
Related Links:
  • Bio: Craig Stadler
  • Full Coverage of the U.S. Senior Open
  • More Champions Tour Event Preview Information
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    Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

    New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

    The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

    "Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

    It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

    Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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    Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

    SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

    Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

    He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

    Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

    The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

    ''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

    Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

    ''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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    13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

    Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

    Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

    “An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

    Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

    Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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    McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

    It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

    Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

    Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    “I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

    Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

    “Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

    This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.