Look back: Craig Stadler wins 1982 Masters

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the story that appeared in The Augusta Chronicle on Monday, April 12, 1982.  

 

Craig Stadler didn’t put his putter into orbit, nor did he leap for joy as Fuzzy Zoeller had done.

He just stood there seemingly stunned by the moment.

“I thought, ‘Is he going to make it or isn’t he?’ It looked like he hit a good putt. Then I thought, ‘Really, oh my God, he missed it.’ Then I didn’t know what to think. It took 8 to 10 seconds to realize what had happened.”

What transpired was that Danny Joe Pohl had missed a 6-foot, par-saving putt on No. 10, the first hole of a sudden-death playoff, getting 28-year-old Craig Robert Stadler off the hook in the 46th Masters Tournament.

It was only the second sudden death playoff in Masters history. Zoeller, playing in his first Masters, sank a birdie putt on No. 11 - the second extra hole - to beat Tom Watson and Ed Sneed in the 1979 tournament.

Stadler, who had opened Sunday’s round with a 3-stroke lead over Jerry Pate and 1980 Masters champion Seve Ballesteros, had a 6-shot lead at the turn but got to thinking about that green coat going into Amen Corner. The course, as it always seems to do, had the last laugh and Stadler bogeyed four holes coming in. He 3-putted from 30 feet, missing an 8-foot putt on No. 18 to drop into the tie.

“Walking down the fairway on No. 11, I said to myself, ‘This is easy.’ It looked like they all were playing for second and the only thing in doubt was by how much was I going to win. The National proved itself on Sunday again. I’ll take ‘em any way I can,” said Stadler, who soared to 40 on the back nine for 73 and a 4-under-par total of 284 for 72 holes.

“It always has been my dream just to play in the Masters, which I did in 1974. This is like a dream come true.”

The victory, fifth of a PGA Tour career that started in June 1976, was Stadler’s first in one of the four majors. The $64,000 first prize makes him the year’s money leader with $211,557.

The Masters easily could have had another first-time victor. Pohl, a long hitter who played 13 through 18 in 6 under par en route to a 67 Saturday, shot another 67 Sunday to tie Stadler.

“It was a great tournament for me,” said Pohl, who has yet to win in four years on the tour. “It’s too bad I had to finish the way I did on one extra hole.

“I proved to myself that I can play championship golf. I just didn’t perform well on the playoff hole. At least I managed to put some excitement into the tournament.”

Tying for third at 285 were Ballesteros (71) and Pate (71), who went 2 over par on the front but could have gained the playoff by sinking a 20-foot birdie putt roughly along the line of Stadler’s first attempt on No. 18.

Defending champion Watson, who took himself out of the tournament with a back-nine 42 to complete the first round Friday morning, shot 37-34-71 to tie Kite (32-37-69) at 287. Kite, who had a roller coaster tournament, trailed by 6 at the turn and was only 2 behind when he three-putted No. 15 for bogey 6, missing from 3 feet.

Weiskopf, a four-time runner-up in the Masters, also was 2 shots down after 9, but made a triple bogey 7 on No. 10 and a triple bogey 8 on No. 13. He did get 3 shots back with birdies but finished with 75 for 290 and a tie for 10th place.

Low amateur was Georgia Southern product Jodie Mudd, who shot 76 for 294, tying for 20th and thus earning a return trip with his top 24 finish.

Mudd then announced he is turning professional and will play in this week’s Tallahassee Open.

“But I finished in the top 24 and I’ll be back,” Mudd said.

Stadler, who cited his wife, Sue, and 2-year-old son, Kevin, as reasons he has been able to handle his volatile emotions over the past several years, admittedly was dejected with himself after completing No. 18.

“My wife was waiting on me and kind of pumped me up,” he said. “She said, ‘It’s over and done with. There’s nothing you can do about it. There’s only the two of you left. You have to go out and do it.’ Obviously, it turned out right.”

Stadler rapped a big drive and then hit a little 6-iron to the front of the green, 40 feet from the hole, on No. 10.

“I didn’t hit it hard,” Stadler said. “I was trying not to go over the green. I wanted to keep it in the middle of the green and short of the hole, which I did.”

Pohl, meanwhile, hit an even bigger drive on the 485-yard par 4 hole, and was left with a 7-iron to the green. He missed the green slightly to the right, 40 feet from the hole, primarily because he was guarding against pulling it to the left, off the green and down a bank.

He then left his approach shot 6 feet short of the hole.

Stadler curved his first putt around the cup and knocked in the 3-foot par putt.

“Jerry had the same putt in the morning, so I knew that it would break a lot,” Stadler said. “I tried to make it because I didn’t know what he would do.”

“I was a little nervous,” said Pohl. “It was the type of putt that if I had hit it harder, it might have gone 6 feet by the hole. Maybe today was not my day. I was just happy to be there.”

“The putt at No. 15 really hurt,” said Kite, last year’s leading money winner and stroke average leader who was the favorite in this tournament. “Sixty-nine is absolutely the highest I could have shot. My charge fell short. It gives you a kind of empty feeling. Maybe someday I’ll be back in here to see you a little bit later in the afternoon.”

Kite has finished fifth, third, 18th, fifth, sixth, fifth and now fifth in his most recent Augusta appearances.

Pate had predicted it would be a ball-striker’s tournament because the bentgrass greens would force the players to keep the ball below the hole. He now has finished sixth, fifth and third in the last three Masters.

“I felt confident starting the day that I was going to win,” he said. “This was the first time since I’ve been playing at the Augusta National that I wasn’t nervous. Everything just kept going wrong.”

On the front nine, Stadler played the way tournaments are won. He almost made an eagle at No. 2, reaching the green with a 5-iron and then 2-putting from 30 feet.

He drove into the bunker but 2-putted for par on No. 3. A 1-iron tee shot went to the left fringe and he was forced to make a downhill 5-footer for par on No. 4. Stadler sank another 4-foot par putt after going over the green and into a welcome bunker on No. 5.

Then came a mini-explosion. A 6-iron to 20 feet pin high brought a birdie on No. 6 and he hit a sand wedge to 15 feet for another birdie on No. 7. However, Stadler failed to birdie the 535-yard, par 5 eight hole, pulling his sand wedge approach, hitting a poor chip to 30 feet and then 2-putting.

That enabled him to turn in 33 and go 8 under par for his 6-shot lead over Ballesteros, Weiskopf, Pohl and Kite.

Pohl made birdie from 15 feet on No. 1, 3 feet on No. 2 and 12 feet on No. 9 for his outgoing 33. Kite 2-putted from 60 feet on No. 2, ran in a 15-footer on No. 5, a 6-footer on No. 7 and wedged it to 1 foot on No. 8.

However, that’s when Kite started having his putts barely slide by the hole.

Ballesteros’ hopes were dashed when he made bogey at No. 12, although it was a sensational 4 because he hit his tee shot into a bush, played down to the rear bunker nearest the green and later 1-putted. He birdied 15, 17 and 18 to come within a stroke of tying.

Weiskopf drove into the woods en route to his 7 on No. 10 and was in the creek twice, playing it once and having to drop out the other time, for an 8 on No. 13.

Pohl, running a half-hour ahead of Stadler, thought he was playing for second, even when he continued sizzling on the back nine. He ran in a 10-footer for birdie on No. 12 and then rapped his 4-iron second shot just 10 feet from the hole but missed the eagle putt on the par 5 No. 13.

He bogeyed the 405-yard 14th with a poor chip after his drive left him 95 yards from the hole and was forced to hit a 6-foot par putt when his 3-iron approach shot spun back into the water on the 500-yard 15th. But Pohl’s 6-iron tee shot left him with a 10-inch birdie putt on No. 16 and he reached the 400-yard 17th with a sand wedge, only to miss a birdie from 15 feet.

Meanwhile, Stadler had to save par with a chip to 8 inches on No. 10 and a 5-footer after his 6-iron approach left him 50 feet away on No. 11.

On No. 12, Stadler faced a difficult chip following his 6-iron tee shot, left it 8 feet short and missed the putt. He missed a 12-foot birdie putt after laying up on No. 13 and then 3-putted No. 14, missing a 4-foot par putt. He then put his 3-wood second shot into the bunker but missed a 10-foot birdie putt at 15 and was the victim of a slick green on the 16th hole. His 6-iron tee shot went into the right bunker and he hit a perfect trap shot, but it wouldn’t stop.

“At first I had a 6-foot, then an 8-foot and then a 40-foot putt. I then started worrying about it rolling into the water,” said Stadler, who made a good try but failed to save par. That trimmed the margin to one shot over Pohl.

If Stadler thought that was having bad luck, he wasn’t through yet. His mammoth tee shot rolled into a deep divot on No. 17. He hit a vicious wedge shot which spun off the green, but chipped to 1 foot for a par.

That left him facing No. 18 needing only a par 4 to win. However, his 5-iron approach shot was 30-feet from the hole. He then 3-putted.

1982: Craig Stadler wins shortest Masters playoff

 

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