Wed, Apr 09, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Storms halt practice as Stadlers to become first Masters father-son duo

AFP, AUGUSTA, Georgia

Kevin Stadler of the US chips on the second hole during the first practice round at the Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, on Monday.

Photo: EPA

Severe storms halted practice for the 78th Masters on Monday and forced spectators to be cleared from Augusta National as a safety precaution.

The course was not expected to reopen due to thunderstorms that were expected to linger in the area for the remainder of the day.

Those who bought practice-round tickets will be sent refunds next month and assured of the chance of buying practice-round tickets to next year’s Masters, according to a statement from the club.

“We are disappointed that our patrons could not enjoy today’s practice round, however safety must be our first concern,” Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said.

About 30 players had started practice rounds in the two hours of availability under cold, overcast and damp conditions before the course was closed.

Weather is expected to improve throughout the week, with forecasts for clear conditions from tomorrow’s start of the year’s first major golf championship to the finish on Sunday.

That figures to toughen the now-damp greens, making the undulating putting surfaces harder and faster when players compete for the coveted green jacket, symbolic of Masters supremacy.

Craig and Kevin Stadler will become the first father and son to play in the same Masters this week, but relations remain complicated between the two following a divorce.

Craig Stadler, the 60-year-old winner of the 1982 Masters, divorced Sue, Kevin’s mother, in 2006.

And much of Kevin’s success has involved being known as the son of the PGA veteran known as the “Walrus,” who is making his 38th and possibly final Masters start as his son is making his first.

“This is a very cool thing,” Craig Stadler said. “It’s emotional in a very good way. I was hoping it would happen someday. It’s going to be just a wonderful week. I hope he plays really well and I hope I don’t embarrass myself.”

The younger Stadler said he had no qualms about appearing side-by-side with his father, despite past issues.

“It’s going to be good,” Kevin Stadler said. “It’s my dad. It is what it is.”

“He’s had his part done for 35 years. Not the easiest golf tournament to make your way into unfortunately,” he added.

The elder Stadler expects this long-awaited father-son major, which could even see them paired together for the first two rounds, will be his competitive Masters swan song.

“When I do bow out, which probably will be this year, I can’t think of a better way to do it than playing with your son in the same tournament. It’s awesome,” Craig Stadler said.

Kevin Stadler, 34, won his way to Augusta National this week by taking the Phoenix Open title in February.

“He has become just a wonderfully consistent player and has his own identity and everything else, which he should,” the elder Stadler said. “He’s worked hard for it and he’s earned it. Good for him. I’m just going to stand on the sidelines and watch.”

While there have been 11 fathers who have had sons compete in the Masters as well, none of them ever played in the same year until now.

When Craig won his green jacket, Kevin was only two-years-old. Yet because Augusta National became an annual family trip, he grew up running around the famous course as if it were a vacation playground.

“It was great to be able to tag along and walk around here,” Kevin Stadler said. “I couldn’t wait for April every year, when I was a kid, to come out here and just run rampant around the golf course. I used to love tagging around at tournaments, just watching the golf. It was what I got the most enjoyment out of when I was a kid.”

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