In the not-so-distant past, Craig Stadler was missing cuts on the PGA Tour and just waiting on a birthday. But he’s parlayed his Champions Tour experience into more than just a career extension.
It’s been a rebirth for Stadler, and the renaissance continued Aug. 29 at the Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club. He roared home with four consecutive birdies to earn a one-shot victory at the Jeld-Wen Tradition – his second major championship on the Champions Tour and his sixth tour victory overall.
“I never envisioned this at the start of last year,” said Stadler, who won 13 times on the PGA Tour but missed six cuts in his first nine PGA Tour events in 2003. “I was horrible. I very quickly went from feeling where I was competing on a regular basis to hurriedly trying to have a birthday.”
Stadler celebrated that birthday June 2, 2003, won the Ford Senior Players Championship six weeks later, then won the B.C. Open on the PGA Tour the week after that. He hasn’t looked back, and his resurgence continued in a big way at the Tradition.
Stadler, who started the final round four strokes back, finished at 13-under 275, a stroke ahead of Jerry Pate (66) and Allen Doyle (71) at Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club. Hometown favorite Peter Jacobsen was one of seven golfers at 11 under.
“About 45 (thousand) of the 46,000 people out here today were rooting for Peter,” Stadler said.
As a rookie on the Champions Tour, Jacobsen has played in only four tour events after being slowed by hip surgery in April. But he already has one major, the U.S. Senior Open in St. Louis.
“(Jacobsen) beat me up pretty good at the Open, and he was limping around,” Stadler said with a smile. “I might have owed him one. Eighty-one of us come out here and 81 of us don’t want to spoil Peter’s party. But so be it.”
Stadler had some good fortune when Jacobsen and Pate each faltered late, and said he was “never really in it until there was a hole and a half to go.”
At the par-4 17th, Jacobsen hit to the edge of the water hazard on the left – then into the water with his next shot. He finished with a double bogey and fell out of contention.
Pate eagled the par-5 16th to take the lead at 14 under, a shot ahead of Vicente Fernandez, but fell back with bogeys on the final two holes.
Pate, a Champions Tour rookie, last won in 1982 at The Players Championship.
The Tradition spent 14 years in Arizona before Jacobsen lobbied to relocate it. But for the first Oregon event last year, Jacobsen was 49 – too young for the Champions Tour.
Jacobsen held the lead after the first two rounds and shared the lead with Fernandez going into Sunday. He won the PGA Tour’s Greater Hartford Open last year, but chose not to defend his title in the newly named Buick Championship this weekend so he could compete in the Tradition.
Peter Jacobsen Productions, the golfer’s sports management firm, runs the tournament sponsored by Oregon window and door maker Jeld-Wen.
– Staff and wire reports