A young Walrus takes spotlight from Tiger, Vijay

Posted: Friday, February 13, 2004

SAN DIEGO Kevin Stadler can't waddle far without being reminded how much he looks like his father.

The comparisons were more about golf than girth Thursday in the Buick Invitational, when the son of former Masters champion Craig Stadler shot an 8-under-par 64 to steal the spotlight from Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh.

Stadler, who used to romp across Torrey Pines as a kid and watched his father win here 10 years ago, finished with a birdie and an eagle on the North course for a one-shot lead over Jesper Parnevik and Ted Purdy.

''I've been playing well, but I would never have dreamed of this,'' Stadler said.

It sure caught Woods off guard.

As he was completing a frustrating round of 71 on the tougher South course, Woods was told that Kevin Stadler was leading the tournament.

''Kevin?'' Woods said. ''I thought it was Craig.''

Everyone knows the father, nicknamed the ''Walrus'' for his mustache and hollow eyes, not to mention expansive waistline. Kevin has a goatee, but that's where the differences end.

''You get a look-a-like comment about every 4 feet wherever I go,'' he said. ''I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but it will never go away unless I do something about it.''

Any nicknames?

''I definitely don't want to start thinking about those,'' he said. ''No animals.''

There were plenty of birdies and eagles, though, especially on the North course, which played 3.8 strokes easier than the South. Hal Sutton was the only player among the top 27 on the leaderboard to play the South, where the U.S. Open will be staged in 2008.

Woods finished his round and asked where he stood.

''They said I was fourth on this golf course and 57th in the tournament,'' he said.

The numbers changed by the end of the day.

Woods, who didn't make a putt longer than 4 feet, was in a tie for 63rd and 11 players had better scores on the South.

''Everyone is tearing up the North, so I need to do the same thing,'' Woods said.

Not everyone.

Singh, coming off a victory at Pebble Beach for his 12th consecutive top-10 finish, never got it going and needed a birdie on the par-5 18th to shoot 71 on the easier course.

Purdy summed it up best after his bogey-free 65 on the North.

''I'm going to the U.S. Open tomorrow,'' he said.

There can be exceptions, however.

Woods opened with a pedestrian 70 on the North course last year, then closed with rounds of 66-68-68 on the South to win by four shots.

He had a tougher time in his first tournament in a month, and twice had to hit sensational shots under and around the trees to avoid big numbers.

He picked up birdies on two of the par 5s, and got another with a shot out of thick rough to 4 feet on the 15th hole.

''I didn't play well,'' Woods said. ''But I hung in there and kept myself out of trouble.''

Stadler played with his father last week at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where Kevin made the cut for the first time in five PGA Tour events. He wound up in a tie for 35th and earned $25,000, which was a big boost to his confidence.

Stadler, who played up the road at USC, has failed to get past the first stage of Q-school twice, and he felt awkward about taking a sponsor's exemption to the Buick Invitational.

''I kind of feel from certain people that they think I'm just playing because of my dad, and I want to shed that,'' Stadler said. ''But that's the way it is right now. I just need to make my own way out here.''

He earned his keep Thursday.

Stadler moved from San Diego right before starting high school, but he still had some friends in the gallery and he was nervous. He holed an 8-footer for par, then chipped in for birdie to settle him down, and he was on his way.

The only bad hole was No. 15 a bad drive, a bad lie, a bad second shot, bad putts. The disgust was evident, just like it always is for his demonstrative dad.

''He's always hounded me to be more calm on the golf course,'' Stadler said of the fatherly advice.

Still, there was a moment last week at Pebble that made him realize how much they are alike.

''People always tell me about how much alike we are,'' he said. ''I'm just sitting there looking at him 10 feet in front of me, the way he's standing.

"And I realize I'm standing the exact same way.''

Stadler sure wouldn't complain if he got the same results.

PORT STEPHENS, Australia Laura Davies became the first woman to play in an event sanctioned by the European and Australasian tours, opening the ANZ Championship with a minus-1 total under the modified Stableford scoring system. Davies had five bogeys and two birdies, and was 19 points behind leader Nick O'Hern. She was tied for 124th in the 156-player field, with the top 70 and ties making the two-round cut.

By DOUG FERGUSON

AP Golf Writer

SAN DIEGO Kevin Stadler can't waddle far without being reminded how much he looks like his father.

The comparisons were more about golf than girth Thursday in the Buick Invitational, when the son of former Masters champion Craig Stadler shot an 8-under-par 64 to steal the spotlight from Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh.

Stadler, who used to romp across Torrey Pines as a kid and watched his father win here 10 years ago, finished with a birdie and an eagle on the North course for a one-shot lead over Jesper Parnevik and Ted Purdy.

''I've been playing well, but I would never have dreamed of this,'' Stadler said.

It sure caught Woods off guard.

As he was completing a frustrating round of 71 on the tougher South course, Woods was told that Kevin Stadler was leading the tournament.

''Kevin?'' Woods said. ''I thought it was Craig.''

Everyone knows the father, nicknamed the ''Walrus'' for his mustache and hollow eyes, not to mention expansive waistline. Kevin has a goatee, but that's where the differences end.

''You get a look-a-like comment about every 4 feet wherever I go,'' he said. ''I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but it will never go away unless I do something about it.''

Any nicknames?

''I definitely don't want to start thinking about those,'' he said. ''No animals.''

There were plenty of birdies and eagles, though, especially on the North course, which played 3.8 strokes easier than the South. Hal Sutton was the only player among the top 27 on the leaderboard to play the South, where the U.S. Open will be staged in 2008.

Woods finished his round and asked where he stood.

''They said I was fourth on this golf course and 57th in the tournament,'' he said.

The numbers changed by the end of the day.

Woods, who didn't make a putt longer than 4 feet, was in a tie for 63rd and 11 players had better scores on the South.

''Everyone is tearing up the North, so I need to do the same thing,'' Woods said.

Not everyone.

Singh, coming off a victory at Pebble Beach for his 12th consecutive top-10 finish, never got it going and needed a birdie on the par-5 18th to shoot 71 on the easier course.

Purdy summed it up best after his bogey-free 65 on the North.

''I'm going to the U.S. Open tomorrow,'' he said.

There can be exceptions, however.

Woods opened with a pedestrian 70 on the North course last year, then closed with rounds of 66-68-68 on the South to win by four shots.

He had a tougher time in his first tournament in a month, and twice had to hit sensational shots under and around the trees to avoid big numbers.

He picked up birdies on two of the par 5s, and got another with a shot out of thick rough to 4 feet on the 15th hole.

''I didn't play well,'' Woods said. ''But I hung in there and kept myself out of trouble.''

Stadler played with his father last week at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where Kevin made the cut for the first time in five PGA Tour events. He wound up in a tie for 35th and earned $25,000, which was a big boost to his confidence.

Stadler, who played up the road at USC, has failed to get past the first stage of Q-school twice, and he felt awkward about taking a sponsor's exemption to the Buick Invitational.

''I kind of feel from certain people that they think I'm just playing because of my dad, and I want to shed that,'' Stadler said. ''But that's the way it is right now. I just need to make my own way out here.''

He earned his keep Thursday.

Stadler moved from San Diego right before starting high school, but he still had some friends in the gallery and he was nervous. He holed an 8-footer for par, then chipped in for birdie to settle him down, and he was on his way.

The only bad hole was No. 15 a bad drive, a bad lie, a bad second shot, bad putts. The disgust was evident, just like it always is for his demonstrative dad.

''He's always hounded me to be more calm on the golf course,'' Stadler said of the fatherly advice.

Still, there was a moment last week at Pebble that made him realize how much they are alike.

''People always tell me about how much alike we are,'' he said. ''I'm just sitting there looking at him 10 feet in front of me, the way he's standing.

"And I realize I'm standing the exact same way.''

Stadler sure wouldn't complain if he got the same results.

PORT STEPHENS, Australia Laura Davies became the first woman to play in an event sanctioned by the European and Australasian tours, opening the ANZ Championship with a minus-1 total under the modified Stableford scoring system. Davies had five bogeys and two birdies, and was 19 points behind leader Nick O'Hern. She was tied for 124th in the 156-player field, with the top 70 and ties making the two-round cut.



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