Badds Delivers the Goods


2006 Verizon HeritageAaron Baddeley came out of relative nowhere to win at Harbour Town Sunday. It was his 103rd start on the PGA TOUR. He is only 25. But many people already had stopped wondering why he had disappeared from leaderboards.
There were other twentysomethings to ponder and consider. The obvious ones were Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia. There was Luke Donald, the sweet-swinging Englishman who won at Honda earlier this year. There was J.B. Holmes, the long-hitting Kentuckian who spread-eagled the field at Phoenix, also earlier this year.
There was Ryan Moore and Geoff Ogilvy, who won the WGC-Accenture Match Play in February against a glittering field.
And there were others. Baddeley, for his part, had slipped to 20th among the Australians in the world rankings. It seemed like a million years ago that he had won back-to-back Australian Opens.
Baddeley had only played at Harbour Town once before in his young career. He had missed the cut. He arrived last week in the midst of a fairly major overhaul in his swing. And he hadnt yet been tested under fire, comprehensively, with the new action.
Baddeley is a devout Christian. And this victory came on Easter Sunday. It also happened to come the day after the first anniversary of his wedding.
So much now for Aaron Baddeley to celebrate.
On a more obscure note: Baddeley was born on St. Patricks Day'March 17, 1981. Thats exactly 79 years after the day Bobby Jones was born.
Aaron Baddeley is not the next Bobby Jones. But there is an air of integrity about him that Jones could have admired. Religion comes in different shapes and forms.
In the end Sunday, on the golf course, it came down to the game. Baddeley entered the final round tied for the lead with Jim Furyk, a tough customer any way you want to define it.
Baddeley survived four bogeys. He delivered a towering 6-iron over the trees from approximately 220 yards on the par 5 15th and he cashed in with a two-putt birdie.
Then he got up and down from the back right on the 72nd hole to win the golf tournament. Afterward he said he was a little surprised that the swing changes had taken effect so soon. But he knew the progress was coming along fast.
Ball flight, he said, doesnt lie.
Weve heard that from Tiger Woods before, too. Ball flight doesnt lie. Aaron Baddeley isnt Tiger Woods either. But talking and thinking like Tiger, in golf, is almost always a good thing.
What Baddeley is now, is a winner on the PGA TOUR. He is exempt for the rest of this year and all of 2007 and 2008. He is $954,000 richer for his efforts.
He has leaped, in one short week, from No. 199 in the world rankings to No. 78.
His next win will NOT come out of relative nowhere.
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