The 23-year-old Stadler, playing in the event on a sponsors exemption, is one shot in front of Malaysias Iain Steel and Americans David Howser and Lee Williamson. Brett Bingham of Red Deer, AB posted a 4-under 68 and is tied for fifth with Californian Scott Gibson.
The opening round of the Tours second event of 2003 was completely washed out because of rain Thursday, and there was another three-hour delay Friday morning. A total of 59 players in the 132-man field completed the first round. The rest of the players will be back in position at 8:00 A.M. Saturday.
The Challenge was officially shortened to a 54-hole event Thursday.
Stadler, the son of former Masters champion Craig Stadler, began his day on the 10th tee and bogeyed his second hole of the day before reeling off four birdies on his front side. He missed a six-footer for birdie on his final hole that would have taken him to 7-under. Playing on a sponsors exemption during the two-event swing through Texas, Stadler missed the cut at last weeks TravelTex.com Canadian Tour Classic.
Last week was probably the two worst consecutive rounds of putting that I can remember, admitted Stadler, who has no current status on any Tour. But I felt it coming back around today. I know a lot of these guys from college golf, and there are always strong fields on this Tour.
In 1997, Stadler won the World Junior Championship, marking the first time the event had father/son champions. The younger Stadler knows many expect him to try to follow in his fathers proverbial footsteps onto the PGA Tour, but takes it all in stride.
Some may call it pressure, but being compared to my dad will never be a bad thing, smiled Stadler. Growing up around the game, taking to it the way I do, looking the way I do, people will always compare my dad and I.
Steel, who defeated Ken Duke in a playoff last summer to win the Greater Vancouver Classic in his rookie season, was laid back when asked if the delays had cause him any stress.
I just take it as it comes, were all literally in the same boat, he laughed. I gave my caddie a ride, realized I had bald tires, so I went and got them changed (Thursday), watched a movie, just killed time. It seemed to work. I played solid golf today, and that is going to be important because it is a shortened event.
Bingham, the Tours Most Improved Canadian three years ago, brought along girlfriend Jaimie Hawley from Red Deer for the week. Not only is it Hawleys first time caddying for her boyfriend, it is just the second time she has stepped foot on a golf course. Like Steel, Bingham had to stay focused as Mother Nature laid a beating on Barton Creek Thursday and Friday.
Its a mental grind, said Bingham. You wake up all fired up and ready to play, and when you dont, you have to wait and then get fired up again. And there wont be as many holes to play this week, so you cant lose concentration. If you make a mistake, you dont have that handful of holes to make back the strokes.