Smallrus Takes Phoenix Open
By Torleif Sorenson on 2/3/14

Kevin Stadler captured his first PGA Tour victory on Sunday at the Phoenix Open — his tenth victory as a professional. Nicknamed "Smallrus" as a nod to his father, 1982 Masters champion Craig Stadler (famously nicknamed "The Walrus"), Kevin Stadler dodged a bullet on the 18th green when Bubba Watson could not get a five-foot putt to fall, which would have resulted in a playoff.

Interestingly, the senior Stadler said that this year will be the final time he competes in the Masters Tournament. We can only hope that Augusta National Golf Club chairman Billy Payne and his tournament committee pair father and son together in April. The proud 61-year-old father commented on his son's victory Sunday:
"It's awesome. I never doubted him for a minute. I'm his biggest fan. I’m proud of him. He probably doesn't know it, but I love watching him play on TV and on the Internet.

"I kept saying, you know, when he gets in, that's my last (Masters). I'm going to have to get in a little better shape for the next three months. It's going to be great."
Stadler's nine other victories have come in a wide variety of places; he won the Colorado Open in 2002 with his father on the bag, then racked up four victories on the PGA Tour's minor-league circuit (currently known as the Tour). He also captured the European Tour's Johnnie Walker Classic in 2006.

Canadian golfer Graham DeLaet finished tied for second with Watson by virtue of carding seven birdies in the final round, including at the closing hole. It is the Saskatchewan native's second consecutive 2nd-place finish; he was runner-up to Scott Stallings last week at Torrey Pines in San Diego. Last season, he finished in a tie for second at the Barclays, so DeLaet's golf game is absolutely heading in the right direction. Given his continued excellent play, we expect to see DeLaet in the winner's circle sooner than later; his T-2 in Phoenix moves him up five spots to 34th in the Official World Golf Rankings. Afterward, he acknowledged as much:
"I have been playing well for the last few months. I really feel like I worked super hard in the off-season. It's nice to see it paying off."
Phil Mickelson managed to stave off his back pain and get to the weekend, finishing T-42. Mickelson captured his third Phoenix Open last year, to go along with wins in 1996 and 2005.

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