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Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018
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Younger Stadler keeps up strong play in Masters debut

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Craig Stadler figures this is his final Masters.

His son is playing like he wants a lifetime pass of his own.

Kevin Stadler birdied two of his first five holes Friday to claim a share of the lead at Augusta National, showing he has picked up a few tips from his dad along the way.

Craig won the Masters in 1982, when Kevin was just 2.

The younger Stadler picked up his first PGA Tour victory at Phoenix and claimed a spot in the Masters, where he joined Craig as the first father-son duo to play the tournament together.

Kevin Stadler, who opened with a 2-under 70, came up short of the green with his second shot at the par-5 second, pitched up about 6 feet short of the flag and knocked in the birdie putt. At the fifth, he struck a brilliant iron shot that caught the ridge behind the pin, funneling the ball down right next to the flag for a gimme birdie.

Bubba Watson, the 2012 Masters champion, joined Stadler and first-round leader Bill Haas at 4 under with a birdie at the par-3 12th. Watson played bogey-free golf over the first 26 holes of the tournament before finally stumbling at the ninth. But he bounced back in Amen Corner to reclaim a spot among the leaders.

Haas, who shot a 68 on Thursday, had an afternoon tee time. So did defending champion Adam Scott, one shot off the pace after beginning with a 69.

Australia’s Marc Leishman became the first player to reach 5 under when he birdied the first three holes Friday. But he played the next seven holes at 6-over, including a double-bogey 6 on the ninth, to plummet out of contention.

Sweden’s Jonas Blixt was tied for the lead at 4 under until his first bogey of the day at No. 7.

Sixty-year-old Craig Stadler hasn’t been competitive in years and will surely miss the cut after opening with an 82. But he wanted to keep playing the Masters until his son earned a spot, a dream he finally realized this year.

Now, Craig is ready to step aside.

“I can’t think of a better way to do it than playing with your son in the same tournament,” the father said early in the week. “It’s awesome.”

Looks like the family business is in good hands.

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