AUGUSTA, Ga. — Craig and Kevin Stadler have the father-son comedy routine down.
Asked about getting rained out Monday after just two practice holes, Craig said: “It was fine. I bogeyed 1 and birdied 2 and he parred, so we were tied. I was happy.”
Kevin: “That birdie I made on 2 doesn’t count, huh?”
Craig: “You didn’t make that putt.”
Kevin: “He’s paying a lot of attention.”
The Stadlers will become the first father-son combo to play in the same Masters, and it gets even more poetic. At 60, Craig likely will be playing his last, as the supersized course annually chips away at his ego. Kevin, after turning professional 12 years ago, will be playing his first.
When Craig won his green jacket in 1982, Kevin was 2. He puttered around at Augusta National “before I had a memory,” he said.
Said Craig: “This is a very, very cool thing. Thanks to Kev here, I got back to the press room for the first time in about 20 years.”
But to reduce the story to a Father’s Day card would not be genuine. People assume they’re tight because they share the same husky build — 5-foot-10 and 250 pounds.
“My eyes are getting bad enough that I might not tell them apart,” ESPN analyst Paul Azinger said. “I mean, their mannerisms and everything.”
But as reported in a recent Sports Illustrated story, the two have gone long stretches without speaking and their complicated relationship is “ground under repair.”
Some of it stems from Craig’s divorce in 2006. Kevin remains very close to his mother, Sue.
While Craig is at ease enough to do a Jack Nicklaus impersonation in front of a crowd, Kevin is more reserved — at least publicly.
Asked what it’s like having his dad here, he replied: “I’ve had that question a million times, what it’s like. I’ve never known how to answer that.”
Past champions are permitted to play with a guest on the Sunday before the tournament, but the Stadlers played Augusta National together only once — about 15 years ago on a cold January day.
“I might have hinted about eight or nine years ago,” Craig said, “but his answer was ‘I want to get there on my own.’ I thought it was a pretty good answer.”
Craig still plays well enough to have won the Encompass Championship last summer at North Shore Country Club, ending an eight-year victory drought on the Champions Tour. But his focus this week is his son.
It’s unknown whether they will be grouped together, something ESPN analyst Curtis Strange half-joked would be a “horrible” idea: “(Kevin’s) first time at the Masters, he should have his own story to tell, separate from his dad.”
Kevin said he would be fine playing with his father, and Craig said, “He’d be the first one and the last one to want to go out and kick my butt.”
Either way, Craig’s goal for the week is to play the role of supportive dad.
“I’m just going to be out there slashing around, trying to make the cut,” Craig said. “He’s going to be trying to win the golf tournament.
“He has worked hard for this; he has earned it. Put all the limelight on him now. All I want to do is root him on.”