Originally created 09/29/03

Stadler wins second senior event



CONOVER, N.C. -- Craig Stadler birdied his first four holes en route to a 6-under-par 66 Sunday, overtaking Larry Nelson to win the Greater Hickory Classic.

Stadler, who started the day two shots behind Nelson, joined Bruce Lietzke and Tom Watson as the only two-time winners on the Champions Tour this season.

Stadler finished at 15-under 201 with his stellar final round, while Nelson was two shots back after his 70. Jim Thorpe closed with a 66 for third, three shots behind Stadler.

Stadler, playing in his 12th event since turning 50 in June, also won Ford Senior Players Championship in mid-July. He followed that with a victory at the B.C. Open on the PGA Tour the next week.

The best final-round scoring average (68.82) heading into this weekend's event belonged to Stadler, and his hot start was the key to his bogey-free round.

A birdie on No. 7 gave him a 5-under 31 on the front side and a two-shot lead over Nelson as he made the turn.

Stadler's 8-foot birdie putt on No. 11 got him to 15 under. A few minutes later, Nelson three-putted from 25 feet on the same hole for a bogey to fall four shots back.

Stadler received his biggest break of the week when his drive on No. 14 missed the water by a few yards as he clung to a three-shot lead.

Nelson never made a move down the stretch as Stadler closed with eight straight pars.

Joe Inman, who hasn't won since 2000, shot a second-round 63 to trail Nelson by one shot heading into Sunday. But Inman bogeyed two of his first six holes and then had a double bogey at No. 9 to drop to 7 under and out of contention.

Bob Gilder also started the day at 10 under but faltered on the back nine and closed with a 74.