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Stadler Finally Where He Belongs

TOLEDO, Ohio -- It was obvious Craig Stadler was finally where he wanted to be. He joked, he laughed, he told stories about the old days and the old rounds. He turned 50 on June 2nd, and life as a Champions Tour member has never been better.
I see myself in the role of coming out here, supporting the tour and playing a lot, he said, that ever-present grin playing at his mustachioed face. As far as entertaining ' or entertaining value ' you are going to get what you got. Its not going to change any.
There are people that enjoy that. And there might be people that dont, but so be it.
Stadler has played twice on the Champions Tour. His first tournament was a major ' the Senior PGA Championship. Last week he played the Farmers Charity Class near Grand Rapids, Mich. He didnt really come close to winning either, finishing in a tie for 15th at the Senior PGA at Aronimink and then tying for 18th at Grand Rapids. But he is adjusting, slowly but surely, and at Grand Rapids he sizzled Sunday, finishing the tournament with a red-hot 64.
I really played well, admitted Stadler. My longest ' other than one putt I made from 20 feet ' the next longest birdie was about five feet. I missed it three or four times from six feet.
In his first Champions event, the course at Aronimink was drenched and played abnormally long. But he was adjusting after a year on the regular tour that has been a bust ' 10 times entered, four missed cuts, three withdrawals, and three times finishing 42nd or worse.
And Stadler was beginning to wonder if he would ever be able to play this game again when he shot 73 and 72 the first two rounds at the Farmers Charity at Grand Rapids.
I just played miserably the first two days, he said. And then I played great on Sunday ' which was good.
Because you see all of these guys that you have played with a long time and you pretty much knew a lot of them you could beat back then ' and you should be able to beat now. And they are just kicking your butt for two days. But it was great seeing all the guys I havent seen in a long time.
Stadler has an interesting history at this Inverness course. Back in 1973 he won the U.S. Amateur as a Southern Cal student. Superior putting was what did it, he said.
All I remember is, I would like to get some of those memories back, because I made everything in 73, Stadler said with a chuckle. I hit it horribly, but I made everything. This would be a nice week to make putts, no doubt about it.
That was the year that Stadler beat both the reigning British Amateur champion, Dick Siderowf, and the reigning U.S. Am champ, Vinny Giles, in two Saturday matches.
There are a lot of good memories, Stadler agreed.
This brings back memories of not playing very well, but putting just out of my mind for five, six days. And I think, as I remember, everybody I played hit it better than I did. I hit it all over the lot. I had this big wicked 80-yard slice going into every hole. Everything inside 20 feet I made, and I made every hole every day.
Finally, they got fed up and I warmed down. I wouldnt mind making one or two of those a day here. That would be OK.
Stadler was a winner 12 times on the regular tour, the last being in 1996 Nissan Open. He won the 1982 Masters and won five other times around the world.
But this is suddenly a new life, a new career, with a bunch of old friends. He will gladly take it.
Related Links:
  • Bio: Craig Stadler
  • Full Coverage of the U.S. Senior Open
  • More Champions Tour Event Preview Information