Augusta: Kevin Stadler made a strong start to his bid to become the first Masters newcomer since 1979 to win the title in a historic round Thursday at Augusta National.
Stadler, who became part of the first father-son duo in the same Masters in tournament history, fired a two-under par 70 to put himself into contention to win a green jacket just like his 60-year-old dad Craig did in 1982.
"I`ll take two-under all day every day the rest of my life," Kevin Stadler said.
The younger Stadler is among a record 24 first-time players this year, all of them dreaming of becoming the first Masters rookie since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 to win at Augusta National.
"You got to believe regardless, but it`s just one day and I obviously want to do it three more times, but just happy with day one," Kevin Stadler said.
"Struck the ball fairly well, didn`t drive it as well as I had the last couple days. I kept it in play and hit a bunch of greens and kept away from the three-putts."
For Craig Stadler, whose 2006 divorce left him somewhat estranged from Kevin, there was a horrid round of 10-over 82, but also a father`s pride.
"He`s driving it really good," said the elder Stadler. "He has evolved into a wonderful iron player. He hits it high. So, he does what you need to do around here and it`s kind of just a matter of how friendly his putter is day in and day out because he hits it good enough."
Kevin Stadler admitted he was nervous hitting his first tee shot on a course he grew up seeing every year, having been only two when his father won the title.
"I hit a pretty poor tee shot. It went in the fairway, but I was happy to get it under way," he said. "A little bit nervous on the tee, but that`s got to be expected.
"To be standing there on the first tee getting ready to play, it was a pretty cool experience."
The elder Stadler says this is likely his final Masters. It did not start as well as he would have hoped.
"I played like a moron," he said. "It was ugly. My whole game stinks."
Masters officials did not pair the two for the father-son feat, so Craig Stadler did not see his son`s round, as it is much of the time.
"I`m here and he`s there and we never cross paths, we`re never close to each other out on the road," Craig Stadler said. "But the next couple years, when I quit playing, I`ll go out and follow him a bit. He`ll do fine."
Kevin Stadler says he received little advice from his father about Augusta National.
"I think he was really wanting me to find my own way around, not wanting me to overthink everything out here, telling me where and where not to go, just letting me figure out my own way.
"Really you can`t figure out the spots you don`t need to be in until you hit it there. It`s something that comes with a lot of experience around here."