For the 15th year, Augusta’s mayor honored a returning Masters Tournament champion with a key to the city.
“I’m not so sure it’s deserved the way I’ve shown myself the last couple of years,” remarked Craig Stadler, 1982 Masters champ and this year’s honoree. “My only wish is that this could have happened about 20 years earlier, when I could have remembered some of 1982.”
Helping him remember was Ben Bussey, Stadler’s caddy from Augusta for the 1982 tournament, whom Stadler summoned from the crowd after Bussey turned up at the annual Mayor’s Masters Reception at Augusta Common.
Injuries have slowed Stadler in recent years, but winning the Masters had a lifelong impact on the amiable, southern California-born golfer.
“It’s a magical place for anybody who plays here,” he said. “There’s no better prize than having the opportunity to play here every year since.”
Stadler remarked on the lengthening of the course in 2001 and the challenges it continues to pose golfers of all ages.
“It’s fun to sit back and watch (younger golfers) just pound away
at it,” he said. “Some of us fools still go out there and try.”
He enjoyed a few holes Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club with friends.
“I love coming back because I can play the members’ tees, because this place is way too damn long now,” Stadler said.
Mayor Deke Copenhaver said he became “a little nostalgic” at the reception, his eighth of nine Masters Tournaments he’ll serve as Augusta mayor for before coming to the end of his term limit.
Augusta Commission member Bill Lockett, who attended the event, said he liked Stadler because of his “laid-back” demeanor.
“He’s very down-to-earth, and people think golf is just for millionaires,” Lockett said.