AUGUSTA, Ga. — Beating your dad at what he does best is a true symbol of manhood, a rite of passage that has bedeviled sons throughout both history and fiction, as Oedipus, Luke Skywalker, and Michael Corleone can attest.
As much as those gentlemen struggled with their fathers, however, at least none of them had to play Augusta National with their former-champion fathers. That's what faced Kevin Stadler on Thursday, and the youngster bested his old man Craig by a dozen shots. It marked the first time a father and son had played the Masters in its 78-year history.
Kevin Stadler finished the day with a respectable four-birdie, two-bogey round to wrap at two under, two shots behind leader Bill Haas. The elder Stadler, meanwhile, was two strokes ahead of dead freaking last, his 10-over scorecard spattered with bogeys.
After he finished his round, Craig Stadler didn't much focus on what his son had been doing, even though Kevin teed off 44 minutes earlier and stood atop the gargantuan course leaderboards most of the day.
"No idea what he shot," Craig said shortly after the round. When told Kevin's score, Craig replied, "Good."
You can understand Craig's frustration; has he put it, "I played like a moron ... it was ugly." He punctuated that a few moments later with, "My whole game stinks."
Kevin, playing in his first Masters, breathed deep of the chilly morning air; he teed off only minutes after the ceremonial first shots by Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Arnold Palmer. He didn't go off with a whole lot of institutional knowledge from the champion in the family.
"He was really wanting me to find my own way around here," Kevin said. "I suppose he's not wanting me to overthink everything out here, telling me where and where not to go. Just letting me figure out my own way."
The Stadlers played a practice round together, and to hear Craig tell it, that was a welcome change. "I'm here and he's there and we never cross paths," he said. "We're never close to each other out on the road. We're usually opposite ends of the country."
Craig did promise to follow Kevin more often once he retired in the next couple years, adding, "It'll be quicker than that if I have many more of these days."