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Craig Stadler enjoying new role

Craig Stadler won an unexpected prize with his victory in the Bank of America Championship: a whole new view of fatherhood.

While Stadler was winning the golf tournament last summer, his son Kevin was picking up his first win on the minor league Nationwide Tour, a victory that helped him earn a promotion to the PGA Tour. Since then, they have had a chance to play together in four tournaments, and now the elder Stadler is watching his younger son, Chris, learn the game.

``From a dad standpoint, it couldn't be any better,'' the eldest Stadler said when he returned to the course on Monday for media day.

The 1982 Masters champion, Stadler won 13 times on the PGA Tour and six other tournaments before joining the senior set. He was the rookie of the year on the Champions Tour in 2003 and the player of the year last year, when he won five tournaments.

Stadler's victory in Concord was a memorable day because, even as he was signing the winning scorecard, Kevin was winning a playoff in the Lake Erie Charity Classic. Bob and David Duval are the only father-and-son pair to win PGA-sponsored events on the same day.

``It was a phenomenal day all around,'' Craig Stadler said.

Kevin Stadler's victory helped him gain his 2005 PGA card. He has earned $167,265 on tour this year, with his best finish a tie for ninth in Tucson; he probably needs about $700,000 to keep his card for another year.

His father has joined him at four events, going out together on practice rounds and getting paired up at Pebble Beach for the tournament. But that might not be the best thing for Kevin's confidence.

``I beat him every week and I know that kills him,'' Stadler said, conceding his son shot better at Pebble Beach, but they both missed the cut ``so it doesn't count.''

``He's brought it up, so he's obviously thought about it. But there's nothing I would love more than finishing 20th and seeing him finish top five,'' Craig said. ``I'm not going to let him beat me, and he wouldn't want me to.''

Stadler said he doesn't plan to play any more events this year on the main tour, so Kevin can have it all to himself. Stadler also has caddied for Kevin twice and both times Kevin played well, including a victory in his pro debut in the 2002 Colorado Open.

``I'm 2-for-2 and I think it is going to stay that way,'' Stadler said.

With no more playing with Kevin and no more caddying for him, either, Stadler turns to Chris. The 24-year-old Stadler just started playing last May and already has a good, strong swing, his father said.

``I had a ball caddying for (Kevin) and I had a ball playing with him. Now I'm having just as much of a ball doing the same thing with Chris,'' Craig Stadler said. ``It's something new and different. He's loving the game.''

Stadler will defend his Bank of America title on the 6,729-yard, par-72 Nashawtuc Country Club course June 24-26. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Champions Tour, and the event in Concord is the only regular stop that has been around since the beginning.

As part of the celebration, the Bank of American Championship has invited all 18 different past champions back; only two have yet to commit.

The tournament also retired its crystal trophy in favor of a bronze statue of a Revolutionary War Minuteman that better captures the flavor of the region. Each of the past champions will be given one of the new trophies.

 

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