Stadler hangs on to win Encompass Championship

Craig Stadler dropped three strokes in a 4- hole span on Sunday, but managed to hold on to win the inaugural Encompass Championship.

Stadler closed with a 1-under 71 to end at 13-under-par 203. Prior to this event, he had three under par rounds on the season.

"I putted really well all week. I made a lot of putts the last two days and made some very good putts on the front nine today and just kind of got the pushes going," said Stadler. "It's been about a six-week process of totally changing my whole golf game and revamping everything. I'm not sure this is the fruitions of it yet because I putted just phenomenally well until the back nine today."

Fred Couples bogeyed the last for a 6-under 66. He ended alone in second place at minus-12 at North Shore Country Club.

Mark O'Meara carded a 4-under 68 on Sunday to grab a share of third place. He ended alongside David Frost (70), Bernhard Langer (69), Tom Lehman (69), Tom Pernice, Jr. (67), Kenny Perry (67) and Jeff Sluman (71) at 11-under.

Stadler got off to a quick start with birdies at the first and second to push his lead to four over a pair of players. As his opponents tried to creep closer, Stadler again converted back-to-back birdie chances at the fifth and sixth to push his advantage to five over Couples, Frost and Bob Tway.

After a pair of pars, Stadler faltered to a bogey at the ninth to trim his margin to three over Couples.

Couples, who was five groups ahead of Stadler, birdied the 14th to get within two. Stadler responded with a birdie on the par-5 11th to move his lead back to three.

Stadler, who hadn't won since the 2004 SAS Championship, stumbled to three bogeys in a 4-hole span from the 12th to slide to 13-under. He was still one ahead of Couples, who bogeyed the last to end at minus-12.

The 60-year-old Stadler parred the final three holes to hang on for the victory.

"When's the last time I had anything to win a golf tournament," Stadler jokingly asked. "It was a while ago. So be it. I missed a lot of them on the back and made the one at the end."

Couples finished second for the second straight event and for the third time this season.

"I just was hitting good ones and making birdies, and then, you know, got closer to Craig," Couples stated. "In the long run, really the first round I played pretty well and only shot 70 and that puts you way behind."

NOTES: Stadler earned $270,000 for the win... The eight years, eight months and 28 days between victories broke the tour record for longest time between wins ... Stadler's last top-5 finish was in 2008 at the First Tee Open ... The tour heads to Pittsburgh next week for the Constellation Senior Players Championship, where Joe Daley won by two last year at Fox Chapel.