This golfing thing is getting to be a regular habit, he says ' especially since he went to the Champions Tour.
I play more golf that I ever have, said Stadler.You know, its nice to be back and be in contention all the time, for one. Its wonderful to back playing with the guys I started playing with when I first started playing, 10-15 years ago. We are all pretty good friends.
Stadler will have a couple more friends to welcome this week. Curtis Strange makes his debut on the elder tour, as does Brad Bryant. And Peter Jacobsen will play in his first ACE Group Classic.
The field has 28 of the top 31 on last year's money list, including Stadler, Tom Watson, two-time winners Hale Irwin and Gil Morgan, and 2005 MasterCard Championship winner Dana Quigley. Former champions Lanny Wadkins, Vicente Fernandez and Allen Doyle also are in the field, as are Ben Crenshaw, Jim Colbert, Raymond Floyd and Gary Player.
The only ones missing from the top 31 are Tom Kite, Peter Jacobsen and Jose Maria Canizares. Kite is using a one-time career money list exemption to play on the PGA Tour in the early part of 2005. Jacobsen had knee surgery following a mishap at the Pebble Beach tournament. Jack Nicklaus will also skip this tournament, reluctantly, to allow his sore hamstrings time to heal.
Last year's tournament field was rated the sixth best on the tour all year, pretty good considering there are five senior majors.
Stadler will be here ' its a Champions Tour event, isnt it? He says he will play in just about every one this year. The difference is playing with the seniors as opposed to playing the regular tour from ages 45 to 50 was a lot of fun.
Youre not non-competitive, but youre not nearly as competitive as you used to be, he says. That wears on you after awhile.
But I think really just the fact that there were no cuts and no pressure and probably nothing for a 49-year-old to prove, as opposed to being 50, or looking forward to it if that makes sense. But I think that, to go out when you are 48 or 49 and still prove to these young guys that you can still play with them ' its a lot less pressure, its a lot easier in that regard. Add two and two together and you get a lot more enjoyable time.
What does Stadler enjoy about it?
Its a combination of everything ' just being out here, three rounds, hop in the cart and get around a couple of days in pro-ams it all adds up to a pretty good time and Im really enjoying it.
But ' no kids at home. You play so-so and you make a good check. You play decent and you make an awesome check.