Kevin Stadler - Photo Credits: KenDennisPhoto.com

Kevin Stadler – Photo Credits: KenDennisPhoto.com

Kevin Stadler won the Phoenix Open Sunday for his first PGA TOUR victory after playing partner Bubba Watson missed a 5-foot par putt on the 72nd hole.

Stadler closed with a 3-under 68 for a -16/268 and a one-stroke victory over Watson and Canadian Graham DeLaet. DeLaet fired a final round 65 while third round leader Watson finished up with 71. The pair tied for 2nd at -15/269.

The win was the result of Stadler’s 239th PGA Tour start.  Prior to the Phoenix Open, Kevin’s  biggest win came in 2006 at the European Tour’s Johnnie Walker Classic in Australia.

The victory, worth $1,116,000 and 500 FedEx Points, also earned 33 year old Stadler a spot in the Masters , a tournament his father Craig 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.

Team New England’s James Driscoll finished at -3/281 while Scott Stallings, Keegan Bradley and J.J. Henry missed the 36 hole cut.

Bubba Speak:

Bubba Watson’s comments Sunday convinced me he has done little to improve his play on the most important course for a competitor. The course between his ears.

Sunday after the event, Watson reportedly said of Stadler’s win; “He beat me,” Watson said.”He’s a great player. It was a challenging day,” Watson said. “Again, it’s the same thing, just waiting on every tee box and waiting on every shot.

That is ‘Bubba Speak’ for: He beat me. He’s a great player because I’m a great player.  If the field would have played faster and not slowed me down I would have won.

The road to greatness is littered with talented players who win a major championship only to fade prematurely from the spotlight. These players win an event from time to time and the announcers lament how sad it is, or was, the player never really achieved what they were capable of.

When Bubba Watson is on his game, the wind is blowing in the right direction, his caddy is clubbing him correctly, the field is moving fast enough and nobody is walking while he is trying to think about his next shot. When things go wrong for the favorite son of Bagdad, Florida, Watson blames the wind,  his caddy, playing partner and the gallery  for his poor play.

Golf is a sport where it is normal for players to be frustrated when  they play poorly. Great players, in my opinion, are generally humble and realistic about their game, good or bad. On the other hand those players who tend to be narcissistic, arrogant and always ready with an excuse for their poor play rarely make it to the top tier of professional golf.

Bubba Watson is perhaps the most creative player to date when it comes to shot making. That said, unless he is able to understand and realize the importance of ‘the rest of the game’, he may never achieve the greatness he is so capable of.