Stadler Tops Haas at Pebble Beach

By Sports NetworkSeptember 5, 2004, 4:00 pm
Champions TourPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Craig Stadler won for the second consecutive week on the Champions Tour when he captured the First Tee Open at Pebble Beach on Sunday.
Stadler, who won the Tradition last week, fired a 6-under 66 to win the event at 15-under-par 201. Jay Haas, who was named to the U.S. Ryder Cup team last month, came in second after a final-round 68 took him to minus-12.
'My one goal this year was to win the money title,' said Stadler, who pocketed $300,000 for the win and is comfortably in first on the money list. 'It was pretty easy today. It was a wonderful event. This was awesome.'
The last player to win back-to-back events on the Champions Tour was Bob Gilder, who captured the Allianz Championship and Kroger Senior Classic in consecutive weeks.
This was the inaugural year of the event, unique on the Champions Tour. The players were paired with two junior players and an amateur. Play was spread over Pebble Beach Golf Links and Bayonet Golf Course over the first two rounds before Pebble Beach took over on Sunday.
Stadler held a one-stroke lead heading into Sunday's final round and added a birdie at the par-5 second. He narrowly missed the green with his drive at the fourth, but chipped with a 9-iron and kicked in the 1-footer for birdie.
Stadler three-putted for bogey at the fifth, but ran off back-to-back birdies at six and seven. Haas also birdied six and seven and the lead was two.
At the eighth, Stadler ran home a 7-footer for par to keep his two-stroke lead. He also had a tough par putt at nine, but holed the 10-footer, while Haas missed a makeable birdie putt.
Both players birdied the 12th, but Stadler extended his lead at No. 14. He knocked a wedge to 5 feet to set up birdie and move three clear of Haas. Stadler missed a 4-footer for birdie at the 15th, but Haas did not take advantage.
At the 17th, Stadler poured an 8-foot birdie putt into the left side of the cup. He was ahead by four and played the par-5 18th conservatively. Haas, down by four with nothing to lose, nailed a fairway metal 30 feet from the stick and two-putted for birdie.
Stadler got up-and-down for par at 18 to earn his seventh victory since joining the Champions Tour last year.
'Jay missed a lot of putts today,' said Stadler, who also won The ACE Group Classic and Bank Of America Championship in addition to his title at the Tradition last week. 'It seemed like all the putts I aimed at the hole went in.'
Haas may have three top-threes in his only starts on the 50-and-over circuit, but he has yet to visit the winner's circle on any tour since the Texas Open in 1993.
But Haas has something big left on his schedule in 2004. He was picked by American captain Hal Sutton for the Ryder Cup team, which tees off in two weeks.
'It's an exciting time for me. I really enjoy my time out here and wish I could have pulled it out, but I'm so looking forward to it,' said Haas, referring to the Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills. 'It should be some pretty good stuff.'
Hale Irwin and Tom Kite each carded rounds of 2-under 70 on Sunday and shared third place at 7-under-par 209. David Eger, who led after the first round, shot a two-under 70 in the final round and tied for fifth with D.A. Weibring, who posted a 1-under 71. That duo finished at 6-under-par 210.
Bruce Lietzke fashioned a round of 5-under 67 and shared seventh place with Ed Dougherty, who put together a round of 71 on Sunday. They came in at minus-5.
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