He Putts Like Eats
Kevin Stadler has played some 239 PGA Tour events before this week and he’s never won. That stat of course changed when Walrus Jr. survived the final round beating playing companion Bubba Watson by a shot on the last hole at TPC Scottsdale. Stadler started the round 2 shots behind Bubba but grabbed the outright lead before the final group he was in with Bubba and Ryan Moore made the turn. That’s when things got interesting.
Stads hit his tee shot on the 11th hole in the desert and was forced to take an unplayable lie thanks to his ball literally being stuck suspended on a cactus needle. Rules official Slugger White didn’t force Stadler to retrieve his ball from the cactus as he didn’t want him to risk injury. KS took his one shot penalty, two club lengths, replaced the ball and dropped. He minimized the damage by hitting his next shot on the green but 3 putted to walk away with a double bogey.
Stadler again found trouble on the 15th hole when he miss hit his 2nd shot at the par 5 and ended up in the drink. After taking his drop he did his best damage control by hitting a wedge close and holing a putt to save par. Both Stadler and Watson fumbled around most of the back nine while Canadian Graham DeLaet posted 15 under in the clubhouse. When Stadler and Watson birdied 17 with miracle two putts, Delaet’s bid to win ended. This was the 2nd week in a row in which Graham lead after putting out on his 72nd hole. It’s also the 2nd week in a row in which a player still on the course made a late birdie to keep DaLaet from the winner circle.
Kevin Stadler’s win is no fluke. He’s been knocking on the door for some time now. As the CBS guys noted today, he usually plays well enough to contend but then shoots himself in the foot when things get tight. That rings true in my memory as well. It seems like whenever I see Kevin get hot and climb the leaderboard, by the time the TV cameras find him he’s getting twitchy over short putts and missing them in bunches. The tour’s All-Around stat is usually a pretty good indicator of who the best players are. As the Golf Channel’s Jason Sobel pointed out, Stadler is pretty fucking good.
That is a strong group to be associated with. Seeing the other names on it also tells you that being a good putter is essential to go from the guy that hasn’t won in 240 chances to a guy that wins majors, a Fed Ex Cup or Rookie of the Year.
This being Stadler’s first win makes it special I’m sure. But like a lot of guys winning around the world these days, the win also gets him into the Masters. Obviously that is a big deal for any golfer, but when your father is a former Masters champ, well……that’s even bigger. Father Craig said today that the 2014 edition of the Masters will now be his last because he’ll be there with his son as a fellow competitor. That’s fucking awesome. I can’t wait to see these two waddling around Amen Corner. Will they be paired together? I sure hope so.
Oh by the way, Stads is a huge Broncos fan which is why he dressed in his team’s colors for Sunday’s round. I’m sure he wasn’t thrilled with how the Super Bowl played out, but I’m guess he was drunk enough to forget most of the game. He apparently celebrated his first victory in style.
Nice. So what’s on his shirt? Spilled beer? Vomit? Or sweat that naturally occurs when big people drink heavily. That’s a great photo. Thanks to Colt Knost for sharing.
Shut Up And Play, Bubba
Golf fans love Bubba Watson, but should they? Like John Daly he hits the ball a mile and appeals to the every man because never took a lesson, didn’t grow up on a country club, and he goes for broke while playing with emotion. But unlike Daly, Bubba doesn’t exactly roll with the punches when things don’t go his way. If you watch Bubba closely in the heat of competition he becomes rather unlikable. Did you see coverage from Scottsdale on Saturday? Bubba got snippy with a rules official who gave him the ruling he wanted, when (in my opinion) he probably had no business even asking for relief. If you didn’t see, Watson hit his ball in the desert and it ended up nearly unplayable in a bush. Watson told the official that an animal hole under the bush was in the line he planned to swing on and therefore he should be granted relief.
Give me a fucking break. This is perfectly legal, but I think it’s borderline unethical. Bubba should have just taken a penalty like Stadler did today and played on. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As tensions mount when Bubba is under the gun, he gets snappy. He’s constantly (with his caddie) telling people in the crowd to keep quiet, directing traffic, and barking about cell phones. Then, god forbid something doesn’t go his way, he subtly blames caddie Ted Scott for the result just as he did on his missed final putt. The behavior reminds me of that of a kindergartner. I wonder if karma caught up with him when he missed a five foot par putt that would have sent him to a playoff today.
Personally, I am a fan of Watson’s. I think he’s great for golf. I think he’s generally a good person. I know what the stress of competition can do to you. It makes me a crazy fuck when I play too. But I don’t play in front of millions. No one cares when I act like an ass. Bubba has to be better than that. He’s a star and he needs to start acting like one. I look at his behavior the same way I look at Keegan Bradley’s pre-shot routine. For both players to reach their potential both need to address their idiosyncrasies.
Bitch Tits Sling’in Balls
On Party Day at the Waste Management Open (Saturday) Phil Mickelson came out to play for the fans and tried to do a little something extra for them when he got to the stadium at the par three 16th. In honor of the Super Bowl, Philly Mick gave footballs to the fans like Padraig Harrington did last year, only Phil tossed them instead of punting them. Lefty, who is actually a righty, hit his tee shot then grabbed a few pigskins to hit targets in the upper deck, the front row, and everywhere in between. He looked just like Peyton Manning (because both are old, both threw with a glove on, and a few were picked off).
His tee shot before the pigskins came out missed the green badly. Then he wore his man boobs out playing catch on the way to the green. Phil admitted he distracted himself from the task at hand, henceforth, he flubbed his lob to the green into the bunker and made double bogey five. I’d be willing to bet that is the first Saturday double made on the hole in which the offending player wasn’t booed whatsoever.
What else can you say, that’s just Phil being Phil and making Phil-like
excuses analysis. I thought it was great. He was out of the tournament anyway, so have some fun, right? He played this week for the fans that love him and he knew what he was doing when he started playing catch. I just don’t want to hear it as an excuse for making double.
Well Lubed And Well Attended
In recent years the pre-tournament media chatter in Phoenix typically focuses on the party, the ‘greenness’ of the event, and what type of attendance record will be set. Phoenicians showed up this week like never before, but that’s nothing new seeing as though they seem to break their own record every year. Still, Saturday’s numbers were/are staggering.
Read this closely: 189,722 people filed on to the TPC grounds to party, drink, and watch golf for one day…….ONE! Most professional tournaments don’t have that many come out and watch for the week. THE WEEK! They’re already expecting more next year thanks to the Super Bowl being played the same week as the WMO across town. Kudos to the Thunderbirds and the people at WM for being able to pull this off, especially when you consider the fact that Tiger hasn’t been in the field in over a decade.
Shot Factoid Of The Week
There wasn’t a shot worthy of making the grade this week, not on Sunday anyway. I wanted to show you Ryan Moore’s 540 degree lip out on 18, but that seems too cruel. Instead I found a factoid about the winner’s bag that dumbfounds me and I have to share it with you. The following was tweeted by Golfweek’s Mike Johnson:
No shit. Little Walrus has a 12 year old 3 wood in his bag. How can this be? Technology-wise, drivers are out of date 30 months after you buy them. Fairway woods aren’t far behind. So how is it that a tour pro has such a relic in his bag? Johnson’s snark about the club’s trade-in-value is no bullshit either. Look it up. Whatever works, right. It’s only a matter of time before Callaway re-births that old model with a new marketing campaign. Look what they just did to Bertha.
Hasta la vista, Phoenix. Onward and upward to golf on the peninsula.