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Stadler wins in Phoenix to collect first PGA title

AP

The Smallrus finally hoisted a big PGA Tour trophy.

Kevin Stadler, the 33-year-old son of major champion Craig “The Walrus” Stadler, won the Phoenix Open on Sunday for his first PGA Tour victory.

Stadler won when playing partner Bubba Watson missed a 5-foot par putt on 18.

“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.”

Stadler closed with a 3-under 68 for a one-stroke victory over Watson and Canadian Graham DeLaet. Watson shot 71, and DeLaet had a 65.

“He beat me,” Watson said. “He’s a great player.”

Stadler won in his 239th tour start, earning a spot in the Masters — a tournament his father won in 1982. The Stadlers are the ninth father-son winners in tour history and will be the first to play in the same Masters.

“It’s going to great for me because it’s really my last one,” said Craig Stadler, a 13-time PGA Tour winner with nine Champions Tour victories. “I kept saying, ‘When he gets in, that’s my last one.’ . . . I’m proud of him. It’s awesome.”

Kevin Stadler finished at 16-under 268 at TPC Scottsdale, his home course. Raised in Colorado, he played in Denver Broncos colors, wearing an orange shirt and blue pants and hat.

What was he thinking when Watson was standing over his par putt on 18?

“How long the playoff was going to take and how long until I can watch the football game?” Stadler said.

After Stadler and Watson each saved par after hitting into the water on the par-5 15th, Stadler tied Watson for the lead with a par on the par-3 16th hole. Watson hit into the front left bunker on the stadium hole and his 6-footer missed to the left.

At the 347-yard 17th, they each drove the green and two-putted for birdie from 90 feet — Watson holing out from 18 feet and Stadler from 5.

On the par-4 18th, Stadler hit his 110-yard approach to the back right pin to 10 feet. Watson drove into the right rough and hammered his 120-yard second over the green.

Watson bladed his shot from the trampled rough into the bank next to the green and it ran 5 feet past the hole. After Stadler missed his birdie try and tapped in for par, Watson’s par try slid by the left side.

“I thought I hit a good putt, but obviously I misread that, too,” Watson said.

Stadler birdied the par-4 ninth to take a one-stroke lead over Watson, but fell behind with a double bogey on the par-4 11th. Stadler took a penalty stroke for an unplayable lie after driving into a Buckhorn Cholla and missed a 4-foot bogey try.

“Cactus and short putt and all that was on one hole,” Stadler said. “Eleven has had my number for years. I butcher that hole every year.”

Stadler likely will move up high enough in the world ranking to get one of the last spots in the 64-man Match Play Championship this month outside Tucson.