In deserts thousands of miles apart, two golfers seeking to recapture past glory found more heartache. At the Waste Management Phoenix Open, 2012 Masters champ Bubba Watson, largely missing from leaderboards since donning the green jacket, saw a par putt slip past the hole on 18 to lose by a shot to Kevin Stadler. And in Dubai, Tiger Woods continued his stumbling start to 2014 by finishing T41 in the European Tour's Dubai Desert Classic for the worst two-tournament performance to start a season in his career.
Steady Kevin Stadler emerged from a crowd atop the leaderboard, shooting a final-round 68 in front of record Phoenix galleries and earning his first career win, gaining an invitation to Augusta in the process, where he'll join his dad, 1982 Masters champ Craig Stadler. But the tournament was Bubba's for the taking until he found the water on 15, bogeyed the 16th and failed to get up-and-down to save par on 18. Afterward, Watson tweeted: "I played solid all week, got to keep practicing! 2nd is first loser!!"
Woods' final-round 71 left him 6-under for the tournament, 10 shots behind winner Stephen Gallacher. A talkative Tiger asserted afterward that the problem is on the greens. "I drove it great today, I piped it all day," said Woods. "My iron game was not as sharp as I'd like, and I didn't make anything. I had seven lip-outs. That's quite a few lip-outs."
Here are the key stats from the weekend in golf:
1 Stadler earns a spot in The Masters, where he will join his father Craig in the field. The Stadlers become history's first father-son duo to play in the same Masters. They're the ninth father-son pair to win on the PGA Tour.
189,722 The Waste Management Phoenix Open, known for its huge, boisterous galleries, outdid itself this weekend. The Saturday crowd was 189,722, a record gallery for golf. The tournament total of 563,008 fans was also a record.
42 Phil Mickelson, who withdrew last week at Torrey Pines with back pain, finished tied for 42nd and says he feels fine. "My game is not far off, even though the score says that it is," says Mickelson, who plans to play this week at Pebble Beach. "It was just a fraction off."
60.5 Tiger's average finish in two tournaments this season — at Torrey Pines last week and Dubai this week — is 60.5. It's the worst two-tournament start of his career.
1 Gallacher became the first player to successfully defend his Dubai Desert Classic title. He vaults 30 places in the Official World Golf Ranking to 37, virtually assuring a spot in the Accenture Match Play Championship and getting him closer to his goal of a spot on the European Ryder Cup team.
The Scene at No. 16
With its huge, boisterous galleries offering deafening approval — or disapproval, as the case may be — the par-3 16th hole at Phoenix is unique in golf. Here's a video rundown.