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April 7, 2014

Craig Stadler

Kevin Stadler


THE MODERATOR:  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  We are very pleased to welcome two outstanding competitors to our interview room, Craig and Kevin Stadler, on a very, very special occasion.
They represent the first father and son to play in the same Masters in our over 80‑year history.¬† This will be Kevin's first Masters appearance after capturing his first PGA TOUR victory at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February.
Craig, of course, etched his name is Masters lore by capturing the 1982 Masters.  And now, they have this special opportunity to compete in the same Masters as father and son.
Before we open up to questions, gentlemen, I would like to ask if maybe you can give some opening remarks, and I think it would be appropriate to begin with the father (laughter).
CRAIG STADLER:  What are the odds (laughter).  Well, I must say, this is a very, very cool thing, and thanks to Kev here, I got back to the press room for the first time in about 20 years.  I haven't even been here since it was built, I don't think.
It's an awesome week.  I'm so proud of the way he's played the last three, four years.  Been close a zillion times and finally got it done, so it's a very special week, but I'm just going to be out there slashing around, trying to make the cut and he's going to be trying to win the golf tournament.  In that regard it's a little bit different.
Had a great time playing two holes today and just look forward to the rest of the week.  It's going to be a wonderful week for us.
KEVIN STADLER:  Sure, I have no idea what to say really.  I'm incredibly excited to be here and to play, and it's going to be really, really fun to be on the inside of the ropes.  Been around here quite a bit.  It's been a little while, but I feel like I know this place pretty well but I've never, ever played it.  So it's going to be a blast.  Just don't really know what I'm getting myself into but it's going to be really enjoyable.

Q.  When was the first time you were here; do you remember?
KEVIN STADLER:  No idea.  Before I have a memory, I would assume.
CRAIG STADLER:  Maybe two years, I would say.
KEVIN STADLER:  I was two years old when he won.  I was here then and probably before then.  Pretty much every year I was running around here.

Q.  What's your earliest memory of being here?
KEVIN STADLER:  My earliest memory is probably whacking balls around the house that he rented that's not even on property.
As far as memories of the golf course, I don't really have one that sticks out.  Every year, I was so young, they all kind run together.  We were here every single year when I was a little kid so it was always a really cool place to come and walk around, but nothing concrete sticks out.  Just somewhere that we ended up going every year because he was playing every single year.

Q.  I understand you have a humorous story about your first Masters.  Can you recount that, please?
CRAIG STADLER:  Which one would that be?

Q.  With Nicklaus.
CRAIG STADLER:  With Jack?  You should know that by now.
Just very briefly, though, I was paired on Thursday with Jack in a twosome at 2:45 or something like that.  Staying up in the Crow's Nest, got up about 7:00, read the paper, went out about 8:30, hit balls, took a shower, read the other paper, went out and putted, came back, had something to eat and hit balls again.  Long story short, I think I hit balls for the fourth time before I could finally go and walked up to the first tee and he was standing there by the table, and I was telling him the other day, I said, I kind of thought I was a pretty decent player with keeping it clean in college.  Walked up to the table and just as I went to introduce myself, he turned around, I introduced myself and he looked me right in the eye and he says, "Well, I know who ya are."
I just went, really?  This guy knows who I am?  And I was done (laughter).  As tradition goes here, past champions or current champion tee off first.  He teed off first, I teed off second, and I teed off second on every single hole (laughter).  Didn't beat him a hole, 67 to I think 79 later, we were done.
So, yeah, I shot 79 my first round and 79 on my last so far.

Q.  You've always had a reputation of being an old softy, is this going to be an emotional week for you, do you think?
CRAIG STADLER:¬† Yeah, it is.¬† It already has been.¬† It's emotional in a very, very good way.¬† I have just kind of‑‑ I had envisioned this and knew it would happen some day.¬† I was hoping it would happen some day.¬† I was pretty sure.¬† The rest was up to him.
But it was very cool on Saturday evening registering and then walked down, two names next to each other on the scoreboard, that got me a little bit.  That was very cool.  It's going to be just a wonderful week and I hope he plays really well, and I hope I don't embarrass myself.

Q.  We know it has not always been the easiest relationship; how do you plan on handling it these couple days, and did you have any hesitancy to do this press conference?
KEVIN STADLER:  No, not at all.  It's going to be good, yeah.  I was kind of bummed it got cut short today but run around and play it all tomorrow and it's going to be fun.

Q.  What's it like having Dad here?
KEVIN STADLER:¬† Just like every other day.¬† I've had that question a million times, what it's like‑‑ it's my dad, that's all I know.¬† I don't know how to‑‑ I've never known how to answer that question.¬† Just it is what it is (chuckling).

Q.  When did you make the decision that this would be your last competitive Masters, and were you kind of nudging at Kevin saying, you know, I'd like to do this once?
CRAIG STADLER:  No.  I really, I have said probably, every time.  But you know, if and when I do, which probably will be this year, bow out, I can't think of a better way to do it than playing with your son in the same tournament.  I mean, it's awesome.
I never nudged.¬† I probably gave him a little crap about it once in awhile probably‑‑
KEVIN STADLER:  He's had his heart done for 35 years (laughter).  Not the easiest golf tournament to make your way into unfortunately.
CRAIG STADLER:  But I'm looking forward to both playing, and I'm actually looking forward to, whether it's next year or the year after but I'm looking forward to not playing.
I've actually said the last three years to the press or whatever, it's kind of sad because I've had a much better time on Saturday and Sunday than I have on Thursday and Friday out there beating myself to death and missing the cut by five or six or whatever.  Saturday and Sunday not playing, it's been wonderful.
We shall see, but I'm thinking this might be it.

Q.  You've both waited for this day for a long time.  How disappointing was it to only get in two holes today?
CRAIG STADLER:  It was fine.  It happens.  I bogeyed 1 and birdied 2 and he parred, and so I was tied after two, so I was happy.
KEVIN STADLER:  That birdie I made on 2 doesn't count, huh?
CRAIG STADLER:  You didn't make that putt (laughter).
KEVIN STADLER:  He's paying a lot of attention.
KEVIN STADLER:  Of course I did (laughter).
I was looking forward to playing, but if there's a day to be rained out, I think Monday is obviously the best day for it.  We still have a couple more days to run around here, so plenty of time left.

Q.  Kevin has spent his entire life being referred to as Stadler's son, Kevin.  Have you noticed people referring to you as Kevin's dad?
CRAIG STADLER:  Oh, yeah.  Which is great.  Which is awesome.  Put all the limelight on him now.  But yeah, he is my son and I am his dad.  So the referrals are honest and they are there.
As far as I'm concerned, he's become just a wonderfully consistent player and has his own identity and everything else, which he should.  He's worked hard for it and he's earned it.  Good for him, and I'm just going to kind of stand on the sidelines and watch, which is all I want to do, and just be supportive and root him on and hope more Phoenixes happen in the future, a lot more.

Q.  What will you be able to offer Kevin this week before the tournament starts about how to play the golf course or will you offer much information?
CRAIG STADLER:  Not really.  He's just like all the rest of the players.  You play different courses every week, especially on the Tour, they are set up obviously harder than ours are on the old guys's tour.
But you see every condition, different grasses, different speed of the greens, different consistency of the bunkers, and you know, there's just a bunch of little idiosyncrasies around these greens that really, you can't take somebody out no matter who it is, and say, well, you can't hit it here, can't hit it here, can't hit it here, got to hit it here; you'll never learn that until you hit it there, just once, and figure out you're just absolutely dead and you'll remember it.  And you do that on pretty much every golf course we play at; you know where the spots are once you hit them there.  But until you do, you kind of know it's not the place to go, but, wow, I didn't think it was this bad.  There's a lot of spots on this golf course like that.
KEVIN STADLER:  Like over the first where you hit it today?  (Laughter).
CRAIG STADLER:¬† I hit a really good hybrid in there, flew it a little left of the hole, went down past the green, thought I hit a really good chip and I had a 40‑foot putt for par.
Not necessarily around the greens, but on the greens, as well.  You discover you can't be short on 9, but you can't be back on the back tier when the pin's in the middle either.  You just have to be very precise with the irons and especially around here and hit the ball high, and that's why I actually love his game for this golf course, because you do have to hit the ball high with the irons a little bit.  And as far as I'm concerned, he might disagree, but I think he's just a wonderful iron player.  I think that's definitely the strength of his game, and having your iron game down here makes this course so much easier.

Q.  The last couple years, past champions have been able to bring a guest on Sunday before.  Have you ever come with your dad to play here?
KEVIN STADLER:  Once a long time ago.  I was like 18, 19 probably.
KEVIN STADLER:  It was incredible but it was really hard.  It was wet.
CRAIG STADLER:  It was snowing.
KEVIN STADLER:  It was borderline snowing.  That was the only time I had been here before last weekend to play.

Q.  So never in tournament condition?
CRAIG STADLER:¬† I think I might have hinted about seven, eight, nine, ten years ago, but his answer was, I want to get there on my own, which‑‑ I think I remember that.¬† I thought it was a pretty good answer.

Q.  Did you travel abroad as a golfing family?  For instance, I remember you leading the Open at Birkdale, I think it was in 1983.  Would Kevin have been with you then?  And there were visits to The Irish Open, as well; I wonder if he was with you.
CRAIG STADLER:  Yes, quite a bit.  Got pictures of him at St. Andrews in '82 putting with Hubert Green I think in front the Old Course Hotel.
But before they went to school, they travelled, I wouldn't say, every week, but probably four out of five weeks, anyway.  It was a pretty vagabond life for the first five years.
I only played in The Irish Open once.
KEVIN STADLER:  Once over there.
CRAIG STADLER:  We went on a trip.  Went to Cork.  That was before the British.

Q.  Kevin, I don't know what you remember about the first time you ever beat you dad?  And Craig, your thoughts on the way he's developed as a young man?
KEVIN STADLER:  I don't remember ever beating him.  I don't know when it happened, but I know like when I was a kid, I would shoot 77 and he would shoot 76.  I would shoot 68, he would shoot 67.  It was just kind of the way it added up strangely.  I don't know if he had a special pencil or how that worked, but it was always the case when I was growing up.
CRAIG STADLER:  Just a good eraser.

Q.  You talked about his development as a golfer, but what do you see as a dad?
CRAIG STADLER:  My thoughts related to that question, we played obviously the Father Son over in the Bahamas.  I think we played there for three years maybe.  But it was about probably the fourth or fifth year we played, and the first three or four years, I would drive it out there and he would drive it.  We would be a yard or two apart.
And then all of a sudden one year at the Bahamas, I had not played in probably a year, or maybe more, and we went over to the same course we had been playing and got on kind of‑‑ we both missed drivers the first hole, and second hole we both hit solid drives, and all of a sudden he's like 40 past me.¬† And I distinctly remember looking like, where the hell did that come from.
And he's like, I don't know.¬† Just got longer.¬† And he got way longer and never looked back.¬† The first time‑‑ if you want the first time he would have beat the day lights out of me would have been the tournament we won in the Father Son and the tournament he won.¬† I was just along for support coming in.¬† He played the last four holes just phenomenal, drove it on the par 4 and whatever, and basically won the golf tournament for us.

Q.  His development as a person, as a dad, when you see what kind of a young man he's become?
CRAIG STADLER:  It's wonderful to be a dad, to be his dad, and the youngest son, as well.  I get people every week, every other week that say, I saw your boy at Phoenix or at Muirfield and what a great kid.  Chatted with him, wonderful guy.
And everything I have ever heard about Kevin on the golf course is positive from everybody.  As a dad, you can't get any better than that.  They are just wonderful comments about what a wonderful guy he is, and he is.  He always has been.
As far as development, I think that he is‑‑ and he might disagree with me, but just from my perspective, I think the last 2 1/2 to 3 years, he's really managed his game and managed himself around the golf course better as far as playing.¬† He's got way more consistent and way more confidence.¬† I think he's got the confidence now that he can beat anybody any given day, and he should because he's a hell of a player.

Q.  Wonder if you have fond memories of your win; not to get ahead of things, but should Kevin go ahead and win a jacket, is there a comparison level in terms of how you might feel in terms of elation, pride or anything like that if he's able to do that?
CRAIG STADLER:  A comparison level.

Q.  Just in terms of winning yourself.
CRAIG STADLER:  Oh, it would be way more.  I would have loved to have made the putt on 18 and stood in front of the world; right, boom.  When we went to the playoff, I had already finished and he missed his putt, and I almost was notelated to anything.  It was kind of like, he missed the putt, wow.  Then hit and I almost felt as bad for Dan as I did good for myself.
Obviously it doesn't matter how you win a golf tournament.¬† You'd like to do it the way you should by going out and just lapping the field and whatever.¬† Kevin made the same comment; he would have liked to make the putt on 18.¬† Well, I would have liked to have taken a seven‑shot lead after 10 on Sunday to the house, too.¬† Your goal at the start of every week is to be one better than everybody else, and how you get there makes no difference.¬† If you get there, you've accomplished pretty much your goal for the week and what you wanted to do.¬† So there's a lot of highs and lows in 72 holes, and if they come at the first hole, you make double and play your butt off and win by five or come up to the last hole and make bogey and win by one, it doesn't matter.

Q.  Do you feel in your opinion that it's been harder or easier to be your dad's son in terms of following that path?
KEVIN STADLER:  I don't give two thoughts to it.  It's neither hard or easy.  It's just as easy or hard for me as the next guy.  That has nothing to do with it, I don't think.
CRAIG STADLER:  Pretty simple to be my kid's dad.  (Laughter).

Q.¬† Your brother said he hopes you guys are not paired in the first two rounds because he thinks it would be difficult emotionally for you, all the playing with your dad, maybe if he's struggling, you don't want to out‑shine him.¬† What do you say to that?
KEVIN STADLER:  I wouldn't have any issues with that (laughter).  No, I don't mind either which way.  However it pans out is going to be good.
CRAIG STADLER:  He'd be the first one and the last oneto want to go out and kick my butt.

Q.¬† Conversely, if he was shooting really low and you were struggling‑‑
KEVIN STADLER:  That would be cool to watch, too.  I have no issues with it at all.

Q.¬† Kind of a follow‑up on that, to either and/or both of you, Kevin, you knew once you won a golf tournament, you would get into this golf tournament and this would kind of happen.¬† Do you have to work on this not being a distraction to some extent?
KEVIN STADLER:  I don't think so.  There's no distraction about it.
CRAIG STADLER:¬† I think everybody is trying to make a distraction out of it other than us.¬† We're just having a great time being together and you know, playing‑‑ well, not a practice round today but maybe tomorrow, and playing another golf tournament.¬† We're like the most undistracted in the world compared to everybody else in this room (laughter).

Q.  Can you talk about when you realized the importance of what your dad did when he won a green jacket.
KEVIN STADLER:  I really don't have an answer for that.  I was two years old when he won it, so he was always Masters Champion when I was a kid, so it was just kind of a tag line that he earned when I was too young to recognize it.  And obviously, it was cool to be able to come here and play for as long as you want the rest of your life, that's pretty special.  It was great to be able to tag along and walk around here.  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 and just watch him and watch all the kids of other people play.  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.

Q.  I see he showed you how to get into the building.  You seemed very impressed that he knew how to come in the back door?
CRAIG STADLER:  50 less yards in the rain (laughter).

Q.  Your father said warm things about your iron play.  What is the aspect or what was the aspect of his play that struck you most?
KEVIN STADLER:¬† Just super, super consistent.¬† Always thought he chipped it really, really well, incredible short game, which never really got him in a whole lot of trouble.¬† He could get up‑and‑down out of anywhere if he hit a bad shot.¬† He always hit the ball really solid with that nice consistent borderline slice out there all the time (laughter).¬† He always knew where it was going and had a great short game.¬† It served him very well for a ton of years.

Q.  If your dad wasn't a professional golfer, would you have been one?
KEVIN STADLER:  I have no idea.  I would hope so.  I've never really thought of doing anything else.  But it's also been all I've done since I was about five years old, so he's got a whole lot to do with that obviously.  There's no way to know if I would have done it if he would have been a doctor or a plumber or whatever.  I suppose I probably would have played because his dad played a lot, but even if he didn't, my grandfather played a ton, so I assume I would have played a lot from him and hopefully taken the same path, but there's no way to know.
THE MODERATOR:  Kevin, Craig, thank you guys for being with us today and all the best.

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