CRAIG STADLER has ended an eight year drought on the US Champions Tour with a one stroke victory over Fred Couples at the 2013 Encompass Championship.
The 60 year old had to sink a 12 foot par putt on the final hole to hold onto the title and recalled a similar putt on a Sunday afternoon 21 years ago.
“It looked really familiar to the putt I made a billion years ago at Akron,” said Stadler, referring to his win at the World Series of Golf at Firestone Country Club by a stroke over Corey Pavin in 1993.
“I just kind of talked to myself a little bit walking back to it,” Stadler said. “You made that one, make this one, what the heck. ”
He holed the putt to finish on 13-under and win his first Champions Tour title in eight years and almost nine months, the longest stretch between victories in the tour’s history. In between he played in 170 events, battling health issues the past three years.
Stadler built a five stroke lead through the first eight holes at the North Shore Country Club but his back nine was a bit of an adventure thanks to some erratic driving.
“I just kind of hit it down the middle and wonder where it goes,” Stadler said of his driving down the stretch. “I’ve never done that in 50 years, but that’s where I’m at now.”
Couples’ final-round 66 was the best of the day and put him at 12 under, but he bogeyed the final hole.
Mark O’Meara, Bernhard Langer, David Frost and Jeff Sluman were among seven players tied for third on 11-under.
Peter Senior (71) finished just five strokes off the pace, tied for 15th, while Steve Elkington was always behind the mark after opening with a 78 but fought back to finish on 1-over.2013 Encompass Championship Results