Badds in Good Position for Aussie Repeat

By Associated PressJune 16, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. OpenOAKMONT, Pa. -- Aaron Baddeley teetered on the edge of a collapse, staring at bogeys on the golf course and Tiger Woods' name high on the leaderboard.
 
He showed he might be up to the challenge.
 
Baddeley escaped with an amazing par from deep rough at the base of a bunker on the 17th hole, finished strong with a birdie for an even-par 70 and wound up with a two-shot lead over Woods after three rounds of the U.S. Open on Saturday.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods was a few missed putts away from leading after 54 holes. (Getty Images)
The Australian kid who was beating world-class players as an amateur now faces the biggest test of his career.
 
Woods was nearly perfect from tee-to-green, hitting every green in regulation until he had to lay up from the rough on the 18th hole and took his only bogey for a 69, one of only two rounds under par even though Oakmont's fearsome greens showed a softer side.
 
Woods, who has never won a major when trailing going into the final round, will be playing in the last group at a major for the second time this year. He was one shot behind at the Masters and tied for second.
 
'I've been there before, and I know what it takes,' Woods said.
 
Paul Casey shot a 72 and was at 5-over 215 with Stephen Ames (73), Justin Rose (73) and Bubba Watson (75), who made a triple bogey from the left side of the ninth green but steadied himself with pars and a lone bogey the rest of the way.
 
The other subpar round belonged to Steve Stricker, who holed out from 74 yards for birdie on the 18th hole for a 68 to give himself a chance at 6-over 216, tied with former champion Jim Furyk (70) and 36-hole leader Angel Cabrera, who slowly lost ground until he chopped his way to a bogey-bogey finish for a 76.
 
Some thought Baddeley's moment would have come much earlier.
 
He won the Australian Open as an 18-year-old amateur in 1999 by holding off Greg Norman and Colin Montgomerie, saying then that his goal was to become better than Woods. He won the Australian Open a year later as a pro, but found detours in America, struggling to get his card and picking up his first PGA Tour only last year.
 
But he showed impressive poise on an Oakmont course that played tamer with accessible hole locations and greens that had been watered three times after the carnage of Friday afternoon.
 
As the leaders began to lose ground, Baddeley surged ahead. He made three birdies in a four-hole stretch, culminating with a 6-foot putt on the 13th hole that stretched his lead to three. But he took bogey after a tee shot into deep rough on the 15th hole, dropped another shot with a tee shot into the bunker on the par-3 16th and looked to be in big trouble on the 17th.
 
Opting for an iron off the tee on a hole where Woods earlier drove onto and through the green, Baddeley's ball tumbled down the slope of a bunker and stayed in the thick grass just above the sand. Gripping the club almost to the shaft, the ball up to his shins, he somehow hit wedge onto the fringe and walked off with a par.
 
Then came the birdie on No. 18, one more shot between him and Woods.
 
'I've played with Tiger in two Masters,' said Baddeley, who also played with him in 2000. 'It's not abnormal to play with Tiger in the majors. Tiger is the best player in the world, but I feel like I'm playing nicely.'
 
Woods finally looked like he was on his game, too, on the verge of the first bogey-free round at Oakmont until his tee shot found the right fairway bunker and he couldn't reach the green. Even so, he couldn't argue with his position.
 
'Right in the mix,' Woods said.
 
Oakmont was on the edge of being close to impossible Friday afternoon, and the USGA responded by twice watering the greens overnight, then again two hours before the third round.
 
'They took pity on us,' Jeff Brehaut said after his even-par 70 left him six shots behind. 'I wasn't expecting that.'
 
For the first time all week, attention shifted from the course to the players.
 
One in particular.
 
Woods was close to perfect from tee-to-green, giving himself realistic birdie chances on every hole and rarely having to work for par. An 8-iron stopped 8 feet away on No. 3 for birdie, and he followed that with a 3-iron into 20 feet on the par-5 fourth and a chance at eagle. He dropped his putter and placed his hands on his knees when it broke in front of the cup, something Woods got used to seeing.
 
He had putts inside 15 feet on the fifth and seventh that he barely touched because they were above the hole, longer putts on the eighth and ninth that tickled the edge of the cup.
 
Most impressive of all was his control, hitting every green in regulation until the final hole.
 
'If he'd putted like I did, he'd have shot 6 under,' said first-round leader Nick Dougherty, who played with Woods and shot 74. 'Tee to green, he's just awesome. It's going to take something pretty special to beat him tomorrow. If he plays like that tomorrow, nobody's going to beat him.'
 
But just like Saturday at the Masters, Woods didn't quite finish it off.
 
He was atop the leaderboard at Augusta National until a bogey-bogey finish put him one shot behind Stuart Appleby.
 
This time, Woods drove the green on the par-4 17th, but it skidded through and into rough so deep that the best he could do was leave himself about 25 feet for birdie, and he had to make a 5-footer for par. Woods saved his worst tee shot for the end, into a deep bunker right of the fairway with no shot at reaching the green. His third was long, about 15 feet above the hole, and it again grazed the edge.
 
By then, Baddeley had run off a pair of birdies to get to 1 over. The Australian gave back two shots in the final hour, but he still managed to keep his nose in front and then gave himself a small cushion with the 15-foot birdie on the last hole.
 
Still, a dozen players were separated by five shots going into the final round on a course that is tough even when the USGA wants it to play slightly easier.
 
'This golf course doesn't lend itself to too many birdies,' Ames said. 'So the guy who makes the least mistakes will be the guy to win.'
 
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

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    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry