Waste Management Phoenix Open: Kevin Stadler pars 18th to edge out Bubba Watson
By Dave Tindall Twitter: @DaveTindallgolf. Last Updated: 03/02/14 1:02pm
Kevin Stadler: Heading to Augusta
Kevin Stadler carded a closing three-under 68 to capture his first PGA Tour title after a dramatic finish at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Stadler, the son of 1982 Masters champion Craig, made a winning par at the final hole to card 16-under and edge out 2012 Augusta hero Bubba Watson and Canada's Graham DeLaet by a single shot.
(US unless stated)
-16 K Stadler
-15 G DeLaet (Can)
-15 B Watson
-14 H Mahan
-14 H Matsuyama (Jpn)
Click here for collated scores
Both Stadler and Watson had birdied the short par 17th after two-putting from over 85 feet and that took them one clear of clubhouse leader DeLaet, who had posted 15-under after shooting a second successive 65.
After a great drive and wedge to 10 feet at 18, Stadler had the chance to win it with a birdie but missed on the right.
Watson, who had driven into the right rough and air-mailed his second way over the green, looked set to send the tournament to a play-off after he got lucky with his chip to the green as it clipped a rope, taking some pace off the ball, and finished just over five feet away.
But the left-hander's putt to stay alive lacked conviction and his bogey five gave Stadler the title.
Watson had started the day with a two-shot lead but that evaporated on the second green as Stadler opened with a pair of birdies.
A Bubba birdie at four took him back in front but the lead flipped at the ninth hole when he made a bogey five to Stadler's three.
Embedded in a cactus
Another two-shot swing at 11 saw Watson regain the lead as Stadler racked up a double bogey. The 33-year-old's tee-shot embedded in a cactus, leading to a penalty drop, and he three-putted to walk off with a six.
Stadler: Held his nerve
A rather nervous Watson held his lead with three straight pars before both men found water at the par five 15th - Bubba from the tee and Stadler after coming up short with his second.
Both escaped with pars but behind them there were big challenges being put down by DeLaet, former winner Hunter Mahan and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama.
Mahan birdied 13, 15 and 16 to reach 15-under but lost his chance with a bogey at 17.
Matsuyama also hit 15-under but failed to get up and down from sand in front of the raucous fans at 16 and had to settle for two closing pars.
DeLaet also looked to have cost himself any title hopes when racking up a bogey six at the 15th. But a pair of closing birdies, the second after putting his approach to five feet at 18, looked as if it might be enough for a play-off with the two leaders wobbling.
Bubba, who had kept his nose in front with a 10 footer for par at 15, couldn't save himself at 16 though after fanning his tee-shot left into sand and for a short while that put him into a three-way tie with Stadler and DeLaet.
Both Watson and Stadler drove the par four 17th green and Bubba was first in with his birdie from 15 feet after his first putt pulled up way short.
Stadler hit a great lag putt to just over four feet and when he rolled that in for a birdie putt of his own it set up the dramatic finish at 18.
And it was Stadler, a winner on the European Tour back in 2006, who held his nerve to secure victory and also a place in April's Masters.... alongside his dad.
Watson, whose closing even par 71 wasn't enough, remains winless since he captured the Green Jacket two years ago.