Stadlers Game Carrying Weight
'No, most fat people don't,' replied Stadler.
Fortunately for the 240-pound Stadler, he only had to play 12 holes in his match against Craig Parry, trouncing the Australian 7-and-6 in the second round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
Stadler is the regular guy's golfer. An affable major champion, whose frank manner can attract as well as alienate. A portly figure who only steps inside the fitness trailer to avoid the rain.
It's going on five years since Stadler last won a PGA Tour event, the 1996 Nissan Open. In the seasons since, Stadler - affectionately known as 'The Walrus' - has had relative success, though not in relation to self-expectation.
A 12-time winner on Tour, Stadler has finished inside the top-90 on the season-ending money list every year since his first full season on the PGA Tour in 1977.
However, the past three seasons Stadler has finished the year 85th, 87th and 77th in earnings. His three worst showings in his 24-year career.
A runner-up finish at the Shell Houston Open - his best performance in three years - highlighted last season. Normally that would be encouraging, but the pessimistic Stadler has a difficult time finding the silver lining in a four-hole playoff loss to Robert Allenby. Especially when you consider the abundant number of short putts he missed that would have won him Lucky No. 13.
Still, Stadler trudges onward, playing in the lesser side of 20 tournaments a year.
This week, Stadler made the trek from his home in Denver, Co., to Melbourne, Australia. Had tournament officials had their druthers, the 47-year-old wouldn't be in attendance - no offense intended.
Ranked 92nd in the world, Stadler wasn't on the original invitation-only guest list, which is on offer to the top 64 on the Official World Golf Ranking. But when 40 other players opted out, Stadler climbed in and gladly accepted.
Stadler is no stranger to success in this three-year-old World Golf Championship event. In the inaugural Match Play Stadler, seeded 59th, defeated sixth-seeded Colin Montgomerie 5-and-3 in the first round.
Entering the third round in 2001, Stadler carries a 3-1 overall Match Play record. His lone loss came courtesy of John Huston in the second round in '99. However, Stadler avenged that 2-and-1 defeat with a 4-and-2 victory over Huston in the first round this year.
Thursday, Stadler continued his dominant ways, recording seven birdies and five pars in 12 holes. Parry made three birdies of his own but was overmatched on this hot and humid Aussie day.
'Unfortunately, Craig missed a bunch of putts.' Stadler said. 'He had four or five (putts) lip out and I putted very well today, a lot better than yesterday. I hit the ball about the same. I just made some putts. Unfortunately, once in a while you get someone who does that to you. I haven't done that to anybody in a long time. It has been a while since I have been seven-under after 12 holes.'
Having disposed of Parry, nicknamed 'Popeye' because of his enormous forearms, Stadler will now face Andrew Coltart in Round Three. The lanky Scotsman, whose bellowing voice betrays his frame, defeated ninth-seeded David Toms 3-and-2.
Weighing less than 160 pounds, Coltart will certainly have an advantage on Friday should the conditions remain the same - that's if he can lengthen the match.
But if there is a positive to Stadler's sweat-soaked stalking around the Metropolitan Golf Club, it's that he's getting a jump on reaching his New Year's resolution.
'I want to lose about 35 pounds,' Stadler said. 'If my game takes a turn for the worse, so be it. But I hate the way I have gone back now. I am still 35 pounds less than I was this time last year, but I would like to get back down and stay there.'
Before dieting, Stadler weighed in at a hefty 272 pounds. He slimmed down to a healthier 218; and now hovering around the 240-mark, Stadler says he wants to play at 205.
For now, Stadler will have to make due with what he's got - which aside from an obtuse waistline includes an acute golf game.
Can the Walrus win the $1 million down under?
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Rahm (62) fires career low round
The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:
Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)
What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.
Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.
Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.
Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.
Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.
Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.
"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."
Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.
Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.
"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.
Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.
Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.
Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.
The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.
Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta
Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.
The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.
It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.
"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."
Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.
Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.
"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."