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Stadler cards 1st win in Phoenix; early season has been tough for NorCal pros

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Scottsdale, Arizona resident Kevin Stadler carded his first victory in 239 PGA Tour starts in today’s final round of the 2014 Waste Management Phoenix Open, defeating 2012 Masters champ Bubba Watson on the final hole of the tournament.

Stadler took the win despite a double-bogey six on the 11th hole, the result of a close encounter between his tee ball and a cactus which left the ball stuck in the spiny plant, suspended above the ground. Stadler dropped a new ball and made the green in three, but 3-putted for the double.

Watson was close to or ahead of the eventual winner all through the final round, but flat play – three bogeys negating three birdies – led him to an even-par final round of 71 while Stadler carded a 3-under 68 for the win.

With the win Stadler is eligible for the field of the 2014 Master tournament, April 10 – 13, which will not only make the father-son duo of Craig and Kevin Stadler the ninth pair to make the field in the history of the prestigious event, but the first ever to compete in the Masters in the same year.

Early PGA Tour season results mixed for NorCal pros

Northern California pros have produced mixed results in the early part of the 2013-3014 PGA Tour season. Nick Watney and Kevin Chappel are the only NorCal pros to have made the cut in 100% of their tournaments this season – both are 5 for 5 – followed closely by Spencer Levin, who is 7 for 8, missing weekend play only at the Farmer’s Insurance Open last week at Torrey Pines. Levin’s T12 finish at the season-opening Open last October is the best by a NorCal pro so far this season.

Stockton native Ricky Barnes has made three of five cuts since opening his 2013-2014 season at the Open in October, while San Bruno native James Hahn has managed no better than a 50% made-cut percentage after starting his season at the Shriners Hospital for Children Open in late October.

Fresno’s Derek Ernst was the only NorCal pro to record a win last season when he hoisted the trophy at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in May, but he failed to record another Top-40 finish in 2013. The former UNLV Running Rebel continues to struggle in his sophomore season, making only three cuts out of eight full-field events entered, and failing to crack the top 60 in three tries on the weekend.