AUGUSTA, Ga. — The first father and son to play in the same Masters ended up on opposite ends of the scoreboard Thursday. Father Craig Stadler shot 10-over 82 in the opening round and has work to do to make the cut Friday. Kevin, who teed off 40 minutes early in his first Masters, had a much more enjoyable round. Kevin shot 2-under 70 and was near the top of the leaderboard.
“I played like a moron,” said Craig, who is exempt for life for winning the 1982 Masters. “I actually hit a lot of decent shots. I just three-putted five or six times or missed a green and made bogey, and it added up to a heck of a lot. It was ugly.”
Craig didn’t get a chance to see his son hit a single shot. Barring a huge turnaround, dad will get to see plenty of Kevin’s game this weekend.
“I’ll take 2 under all day, every day, for the rest of my life,” Kevin said.
EATING ALONE: The biggest disappointment of the week might belong to Casey Nicklaus.
She’s the 18-year-old granddaughter of six-time champion Jack Nicklaus. She caddied for him in the Par 3 tournament and was on the first tee when he hit the ceremonial opening tee shot. Sounds like a pretty cool week, right?
Except that she was on her own for dinner Tuesday night.
On the flight up to Augusta, the teen had heard that Adam Scott would host the Champions Dinner that her grandfather has attended every year since 1964.
“She was on the airplane. She said, ‘Oh, we’re having dinner with Adam Scott tonight,’” Nicklaus said.
The dinner is only for Masters champions and club chairman Billy Payne.
“That was the only disappointing thing for her is she didn’t get to have dinner with Adam,” Nicklaus said. “I don’t know whether her boyfriend liked that comment.”
BLIXT’S BEST: Jonas Blixt gave the Masters an international presence on the leaderboard for most of the opening round. The Swede was in the third group off the tee Thursday morning and shot a 2-under 70 at Augusta National.
“I just need to play smart and aggressive,” said Blixt, a Masters rookie who now lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. “Augusta, the thing is you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I feel like I can shoot really low out here, and I really like the golf course the way it sets up. But you could have a really awful day when you catch all the bad breaks.”
Blixt is one of 52 international players from 17 countries in the Masters.
The tournament record for international players was set in 2009, when 55 players from 22 countries participated.
NIKE OUTLOOK: Nike chairman Phil Knight has high hopes for the World Cup in Brazil this summer.
His optimism has everything to do having the swoosh on the host country’s famed soccer team. Knight agreed to answer one question when approached by two reporters at the Masters on Thursday, and the upcoming World Cup was atop the list.
“Important, it’s 10 out of 10,” Knight said near the first fairway at Augusta National. “How excited am I and how optimistic am I? Twelve out of 10. We’ve been working hard. The players are really liking the product, and the product we have for the World Cup is great. We think in terms of public perception, this will be the one where they see that we’re the leading soccer company,” Knight said. “And all of those things are lining up for us.”
Nike is outfitting 10 of the 32 qualifying teams, outdoing rival adidas for the first time, and signing Brazil could end up being huge.
BREAK FROM BASEBALL: John Schuerholz stepped away from his duties as Atlanta Braves president to take in a little golf. Schuerholz is frequently seen around Augusta National during Masters week, especially since he gave up the general manager job after the 2007 season. For the opening round, he was joined by his wife Karen.
“We’re on our way (to Amen Corner) right now,” he said, stopping briefly to chat.
With the Braves in the midst of a homestand — they had a game Thursday night against the New York Mets — Schuerholz said this would be his only day at the Masters. Atlanta is about a two-hour drive from Augusta.
FAMOUS FOLLOWER: It’s pretty hard for tennis star Caroline Wozniacki to just be a face in the crowd at the Masters.
Wozniacki is following her fiancé, golfer Rory McIlroy, around Augusta National for the opening round — and her bright pink hair stands out.
Wozniacki drew stares when she caddied for McIlroy in the Par 3 tournament Wednesday. He colorful locks were the talk of the famed course, and that was with them partially tucked beneath a ball cap. On Thursday, her hair wasn’t covered a bit.
She may have been overdressed, though. Wozniacki wore tight-fitting jeans and a black jacket — hardly the perfect outfit as temperatures rose into the mid-70s.
OPENING SHOTS: The tee shot is ceremonial, yet there was a sense that competition still exists between the “Big Three.”
Or at least two of them.
Arnold Palmer, 84, hit the opening shot Thursday morning down the middle of the first fairway, barely up the hill. He was followed by 78-year-old Gary Player, who hit his tee shot some 40 yards past Palmer. Last to hit was Jack Nicklaus, the six-time Masters champion who turned 74 this year. Nicklaus hit a tee shot on the same line as Player, and it took once last bounce and rolled about a yard or two by Player.
“But it’s not bad when you think he used to outdrive my by 50,” Player said. “But he did hit on a sprinkler. You didn’t see that?”