Stadler Nabs Playoff Victory


FINDLEY LAKE, N.Y. -- Kevin Stadler parred the fourth playoff hole on Sunday to outlast Michael Long and Bubba Watson and win the Lake Erie Charity Classic.
The win was Stadler's first on the Nationwide Tour and now he has status on tour for the remainder of 2004 and all of the 2005 campaign.
'It's enormous,' said Stadler, who pocketed $81,000 for the victory. 'To get to play out here, it's better than chasing little minis. I actually know where I'm going to be able to play. It's going to be great.'
Adding to the moment, Stadler's father Craig came from behind and won the Bank of America Championship on the Champions Tour. They became the second father- son duo to win in the same week since David and Bob Duval in 1999.
The trio tied in regulation at 9-under-par 279 after a 67 by Long and a 68 from Watson. Stadler nearly won in 72 holes when his 25-foot birdie putt at the 18th nearly fell into the cup. He settled for par and a round of 2-over 74.
On the first playoff hole, the 18th at Peek 'n Peak Resort, all three players had long putts for birdie and none of the putts found the bottom of the cup. Stadler and Watson two-putted for par, but Long missed his short par putt and was knocked out of the sudden death playoff.
Watson seemed poised to hoist the trophy at the second playoff hole, the par-5 ninth. Stadler's second landed in a hazard and he was forced to take a drop. Watson was just off the green with his second, but Stadler nearly made things interesting when his fourth shot spun back and hit the stick, leaving himself with a tap-in par.
Watson hit a poor chip that ran to the opposite fringe. His birdie putt to win the title came up 5 feet short, but the 25-year-old calmly stroked home the putt to keep the playoff alive.
Both players missed the green at the third extra hole and Stadler nearly chipped in again. He settled for an easy par, while Watson drained a 7-footer to extend the extra session.
On the fourth playoff hole, No. 18, Watson's approach came up 40 feet short of the flag. Stadler had half that distance for his birdie, but watched as Watson's putt missed 4 feet right. Stadler's birdie putt just missed the hole, but he was in tap-in range. Watson missed his 4-footer to give Stadler the win.
Kevin Johnson (69), Jeff Quinney (71) and Gavin Coles (72) shared fourth place at 7-under-par 281. Bob Heintz and Bryce Molder posted matching rounds of 2-under 70 and tied for seventh at minus-6.
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