Good Times for Badds

By Mercer BaggsMarch 29, 2005, 5:00 pm
Love can do wonderful things for a man. It can illuminate any darkness in his personal life. And, in the case of Aaron Baddeley, it can have the same effect in his professional career.
 
Baddeley is set to marry his fiance Richelle in mid-April. He refers to her as a blessing from the Lord, and wishes they could be joined in blessed union tomorrow. He nearly blushes at the mention of her name.
 
Aaron Baddeley
Aaron Baddeley is looking to make people look past his clothes and at the player inside.
So it should come as little surprise that Baddeley, a young man driven by the personal aspects of his life, has translated that inward happiness into something a little more tangible.
 
The 24-year-old Australian enters this weeks BellSouth Classic playing some of the most consistent golf of his life. He has finished inside the top 11 in four of his last five tournaments and has already earned nearly as much money as he did all of last year.
 
Things are great right now. Im very happy off the course and I think that has helped on the course, Baddeley said.
 
Of course, you can only ride that wonderful wave of emotion for so long, which means Baddeley has to have more than a good girl on his arm; hes got to have a good game in his bag.
 
And at the moment he does.
 
Hes been working for the last few years with instructor David Leadbetter. Baddeley says ' in simple, understandable terms ' that the two have teamed to take out the loose parts, thus creating a tighter more repetitive swing.
 
Ive just been trying to simplify things. Ive been working on the same things over and over and over again, he said.
 
What Ive been doing this year is just getting back to playing and just reacting letting the technique ' all of the good parts of the technique ' just let that take over.
 
Baddeley was almost forced to showcase those skills on the Nationwide Tour this season. He failed to finish better than 67th in his final five tournaments in 04 and barely kept hold of his PGA Tour card, ending 123rd on the money list.
 
It gets a little unsettling living around the all-exempt 125 line. Thats not a neighborhood where you want your game to break down.
 
It feels annoying when youre working really hard and youre not seeing the results you want, he said. But you just know that if you work on the right things that its eventually going to work out for you.
 
Things have worked out fairly well for Baddeley ever since he turned pro five years ago. It took only one stint on the developmental tour before he graduated to the primary circuit. Hes now in his third straight tour of duty on the PGA Tour and looks to be a lock for four.
 
But Baddeleys career, though brief, hasnt quite been what many would have believed it to be ' at least to this point.
 
As an 18-year-old amateur, Baddeley became the youngest player ever to win the Australian Open, besting idol Greg Norman and Colin Montgomerie in the process. As a 19-year-old professional, he successfully defended his title over Robert Allenby ' who said: 'Baddeley has everything going to be the next Tiger Woods' ' and also captured the Greg Norman Holden International by beating Sergio Garcia in a playoff. Baddeley went on to top the 2000-01 Australasian Tour Order of Merit.
 
Great expectations awaited Baddeley when he tried to qualify for the PGA Tour via Q-school in 2001. And slight disappointment was the feeling as he left with only his Nationwide Tour card.
 
That, however, proved to be the best thing that could have happened, according to Baddeley.
 
I had the best year of my life out there. I had so much fun out there. I made so many friends. It was awesome, he said at the end of the 2003 season. Its just such a good atmosphere out there ' its a good way to grow up.
 
I wouldnt trade that experience for anything.
 
That experience was heightened by the fact that he finished 10th on the money list and earned PGA Tour status for the following season.
 
It didnt take long for Baddeley to make an impact in the Bigs.
 
In his first start as a card-carrying tour member he advanced to a playoff with Ernie Els in the Sony Open, which he lost on the second extra hole.
 
I thought the kid was going to go away, but he kept at me, Els said at the time. Unlucky for Aaron, but he's going to win a lot of titles.
 
As of yet, that hasn't happened. In fact, he's still searching for win No. 1 on tour.
 
Baddeleys rookie campaign was derailed when he injured his ankle while playing ultimate frisbee in March. Last year, he got off to another solid start, finishing runner-up to Heath Slocum in the Chrysler Classic of Tucson. But he wore out as the season wore on, barely making it across the finish line under the gun.
 
While there have been a few flashes of brilliance, Baddeley has been known more for his wears than his wares.
 
Its certainly too early to make a call on Baddeleys career, but even he admits that he hasnt quite reached his own level of expectation. Still, he regrets nothing; his Christian beliefs lead him to conclude that everything happens for a reason.
 
Baddeley doesnt see his professional life as a case of Too Much Too Soon; rather, he believes that his early success will only benefit him in the future.
 
Winning early was great, because I got a chance to come over here and play tour events and play in majors at a young age, he said. I knew in 2003, when I became an official member out here, I would play like 20-odd events; I knew exactly what to expect and I was ready to come out here.
 
It was like winning early was great because it prepared me for where I am right now.
 
Baddeley is competing this week at the TPC at Sugarloaf because he failed to qualify for the Masters. Had he made it into the seasons first major, he would have used this week for rest and preparation.
 
He made a valiant run trying to get into the top 10 on the seasonal money list in order to make it to Augusta. His string of top-11 finishes has him currently at 31st in earnings.
 
Baddeley has competed in only seven major championships in his career, missing the cut six times. He obviously wants to improve upon those numbers, particularly the one relating to events played.
 
Competing in more majors is one of three goals that Baddeley ' who always says: Aim high so your miss is better ' annually sets for himself.
 
Id like to win one or more times this year and get into the top 10 on the money list, he said. If I can do that, then that will take care of (getting into) the majors.
 
For the third consecutive year, Baddeley will have to watch the Masters on television. Hell then take off the following week to get married.
 
When he decides to return to the course, hell bring the new Mrs. Baddeley out with him. She hasnt been a part of his walking gallery over the past few weeks, as she was left in charge of finalizing wedding plans.
 
I love it when shes out here, Baddeley said. She doesnt really know very much about golf, which is perfect. Shes not one to be like, It looks like your right arm wasnt working properly today. We just leave the golf stuff on the golf course.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - BellSouth Classic
  • Aaron Baddeley's Bio
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