Feb 3 (Reuters) - It was a long time coming, almost too long for Craig Stadler, but his son’s PGA Tour breakthrough win at the Phoenix Open has set up a unique family affair for the pair at this year’s Masters.
Kevin Stadler’s one-shot victory at the TPC Scottsdale on Sunday earned him a maiden spot in the opening major of the season at Augusta National where he and Craig will become the first ever father-son combination to compete together.
“It’s going to be great for me because it’s really my last one (Masters),” Craig Stadler said on a conference call after his 33-year-old son had finally broken into the PGA Tour’s winner’s circle on his 239th career start.
“I kept saying, you know, when he gets in, that’s my last one. It’s awesome. I took him there (to Augusta National), oh, ages ago, and I don’t think he’s been there since. Probably 20 years ago. It will be great, an awesome week.”
Craig Stadler, who won the 1982 Masters along with 12 other titles on the PGA Tour, was affectionately nicknamed “The Walrus” on the U.S. circuit because of his portly build and fulsome moustache, and his son is also burly in stature.
Asked to describe in what ways the pair were alike, Craig replied: ”We both love golf, and I don’t know about him but I‘m his biggest fan.
”He probably doesn’t know it, but I love watching him play on TV and on the Internet. I don’t get to watch him play live too often. He’s a hell of an iron player, one of the better iron players I have seen.
“Other than that, we don’t look even remotely close to each other,” the 60-year-old said, prompting roars of laughter from the reporters.
Kevin, popularly known on the PGA Tour as “The Smallrus”, relishes the prospect of competing in his first Masters along with his father.
”That was in the forefront of my mind,“ the younger Stadler said. ”He’s obviously getting on in his career. He probably would have liked it better if I had gotten there five years ago or so.
“He’s been telling me for a couple of years I need to hurry up and get there before he calls it quits.”
Kevin Stadler, who won the European Tour’s Johnnie Walker Classic in Australia in 2006 and four titles on the lower-tier Nationwide Tour, has fond memories of watching his father compete at Augusta National.
”I have been there a lot,“ he said. ”I used to go when I was a kid all the time. I don’t remember the last time I was there. It’s probably been seven or eight years.
”I think I have been once (for a practice round) since I have been playing out here, and I kind of decided I didn’t want to go back there until I could go tee it up (at the Masters).
“I‘m just looking forward to everything,” Stadler said of the April 10-13 Masters where Australian Adam Scott will defend the title he won in a playoff last year. “It’s going to be really cool walking around there with my dad.” (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Larry Fine)