By Jay Betsill
Kevin Stadler, the 33-year-old who is better known as the son of 1982 Masters champion Craig Stadler, won his first PGA TOUR event in his 239th start this weekend by firing a -16, 268 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale. By virtue of his win, he will be joining his dad in Augusta at this year’s Masters.
Bubba Watson, winless since his 2012 Masters victory, had the tournament in control for most of the weekend, but faltered on the final hole when he missed a five foot par putt that would have sent the event to a playoff. Watson and Stadler had each birdied No. 17 to break a tie with clubhouse leader Graham DeLaet, who had shot a final round 65.
“It was a little weird way to win a golf tournament,” Stadler said. “I fully expected him to make the putt. I would have rather made mine to win it.”
The event drew an estimated 563,008 fans, breaking the seven-day record of 538,356 set in 2008. The tournament drew a PGA TOUR-record 189,722 fans for Saturday’s action.
Notables in the field included DFW-resident Hunter Mahan (-14), Webb Simpson (-11), Humana Challenge winner Patrick Reed (-7), Nick Watney (-6) and defending champion Phil Mickleson (-3). Next up on the PGA TOUR is the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am featuring notables such as Jim Furyk, Jason Day, David Duval, John Daly, Davis Love III, Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson. Celebrities competing in the Pro-Am include Chris Berman, Chris O’Donnell, Kenny G, Wayne Gretzky, Andy Garcia, Andy Roddick and Aaron Rodgers.
GALLACHER DEFENDS DUBAI TITLE
After firing a final round 72, Stephen Gallacher become the first player to successfully defend the Dubai Desert Classic title in the event’s 25-year history. It was only his third victory in 18 years and 431 events on the European Tour, but he topped a field that included such golf luminaries as Rory McIlroy (T9, -12), Colin Montgomerie (T48, -5), Fred Couples (T54, -4) and world No. 1 Tiger Woods (T41, -6).
“Unfortunately I turned it around too late,” said Woods. “I piped it all day. My iron game was not as sharp as I’d like, and I didn’t make anything. I had seven lip-outs today. That’s quite a few.”
— Multiple reports have said that Tiger Woods is likely to skip the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship (Feb. 19-23), meaning his next PGA TOUR event would probably be the at the end of February. Masters champion Adam Scott and British Open champion Phil Mickelson have already announced they will skip the event.
— Fred Couples, a well-documented Seattle Seahawks fan, had purchased Super Bowl tickets six months ago on a hunch that this was his team’s year. When he birdied the final two holes on Friday at the Dubai Desert Classic, Couples made the cut and missed his chance to head to the big game.
“Call me stupid. I tried to bogey [No. 16] and I did. I tried to bogey 13, the par-5, and I did,” Couples quipped. “I just couldn’t butcher enough holes…”There’s no way I would ever not try, so I’ll watch it on TV, that’s the next best thing.”
Couples’ next event on the PGA TOUR is the Northern Trust Open in two weeks. He has repeatedly said over the years that Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades is one of his favorite courses.
— The Northern Trust Open announced four sponsor invitations via Twitter including Max Homa, the 2013 NCAA champion out of Cal-Berkley. Homa missed the cut at Torrey Pines in the Farmers Insurance Open but is in the field for this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.