How do you feel?
"S-----," he says. But at least he cracks a smile. He had a hip replaced two years ago. "The hip's fine," he reports. "I've got a bulging L4, and it's whacking my sciatica. My right foot is going numb right now. Actually the left one is too. It's lovely."
He's struggling, admits his longtime caddie, Jeff Dolf. "I don't know if he expects a whole lot [from himself] right now, and that's part of the problem," Dolf says. "He needs new shafts in his irons, but he won't listen to me. He's too stubborn." Two days later Stadler will shoot an 83, making him nostalgic for that 74.
Stadler's crankiness has rubbed off on Dolf, who has some parting words for a reporter. "Get my name right if you use it," he says. "The last time someone quoted me they had me in there as Jack Dolf. Try saying that fast, three times in a row." While the caddies around him crack up, Dolf is not amused.
On the patio outside the clubhouse the Walrus warms up while talking about his days playing mini-tours in the mid-1970s. Whereas Pohl piloted that van to Monday qualifiers, Stadler crisscrossed the country in an orange Camaro, making $2,702 in 1976, his first year on the Tour. By '82 he had arrived. He opened the season with a victory at the Tucson Open, and also took second-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place finishes into that year's Masters. He was on fire.
Those flames were extinguished by Thursday's Old Testament rains. Stadler opened with a 75--"a horrible start"—but rebounded with a Friday 69. "I don't remember what I shot on Saturday," he declares. (It was a masterly 67.) Going into the final round, he led by three over Seve Ballesteros and Jerry Pate, with Raymond Floyd and Tom Weiskopf another stroke back. Hardly anyone was talking about Pohl, even though he'd had a pretty fair Saturday himself.
Pohl spent moving day with Tom Watson, the defending champ—"a great pairing for me, 'cause we both play fast, we both played aggressive."
There was a fearlessness to Pohl's game that carried over to his sartorial decisions. Google "Dan Pohl, Oak Hill." No less arresting than his clubhead speed and powerful impact were the slim-fit, pink bell-bottoms he rocked at the 1989 U.S. Open.
Pohl would win twice on Tour, have 70 top 10 finishes and pocket more than $3.1 million. But he began to have success only when he learned to control that aggression. Leading the 1979 Western Open by three on the final day, he got so hopped up on adrenaline that he started "driving through fairways and flying wedges over greens." He tied for third.
He shot 37 on the front nine at Augusta on Saturday—not great—but knew enough to play it safe on 10, 11 and 12. "You always felt as if you simply wanted to get through those," he says. "Just get your par and see what you could do with 13 and 15."