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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