Badds Luck

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Aaron Baddeley wishes he were there in the worst way. The reason he isnt in the 67th Masters that begins Thursday is because he didnt have a chance.
 
Specifically, the chance he didnt have was to play in The Players Championship two weeks ago and improve his world ranking or standing on the money list in a last-ditch attempt to qualify for a precious Masters bid.
 
Baddeley, arguably the best player not in the Masters field this week, was the last alternate at the Players. But the young Aussie didnt get into the event. Many caddies and players arched their eyebrows when Michael Campbell, clearly hurting from a shoulder injury, shot 89 in the first round at the TPC at Sawgrass, signed for an 87 and was quickly disqualified.
 
The cognoscenti around the caddie barn contended Campbell never should have entered. The spot he took, they said, should have gone to Baddeley.
 
To his credit, Baddeley was making no excuses when I reached him by phone at his Scottsdale digs Tuesday. He refused to second-guess Campbells decision to play. And he said not playing in this weeks Masters just fires me up even more to make sure I qualify next year.
 
Baddeley said he will watch with interest on television. And, he said, the bad weather at Augusta wouldnt have bothered him. But he barely suppressed a chuckle when I asked him about the weather in Arizona this week.
 
Its perfect, he said.
 
The weather has been anything but perfect at Augusta National this week. It has been cold and rainy. And cold and rainy. Chad Campbell finally made it out onto the course Tuesday and hit a good drive followed by a 2-iron to get to the 18th hole that was lengthened before last years Masters. Two years ago Tiger Woods was hitting driver, sand wedge to this green.
 
But Campbell, playing in his first Masters, isnt about to let a little precipitation spoil his experience. It was awesome, he said of his first round at Augusta National. It was pretty cool getting to hit all the shots I saw on television while I was growing up.
 
The veterans were a little more sober about this weeks prospects. Tiger Woods, attempting to be the first player in history to win three straight Masters, did a wonderful job trying to disguise the fact that he knows the softened condition of the golf course gives him an even bigger advantage over the rest of the field.
 
I do like playing in tough conditions, he said Tuesday. Woods also said he hit a lot of drivers in his practice round because he anticipates the course will remain wet. Drive your pill, he said.
 
Ernie Els said the wrist he injured while working on a heavy bag prior to Bay Hill was healed. But, he added, he hadnt been able to begin serious preparations for this Masters until late last week. It was a frustrating wait, he said.
 
Phil Mickelson said he had no idea what kind of form he was in. Before missing the cut last week at the BellSouth Classic, he hadnt played since the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in late February. The time he took off from golf was to be with his wife, who gave birth to their first son.
 
Mickelson did admit that being under radar made it easier to prepare. You dont have as many distractions.'
 
Aaron Baddeley, for one, would love to have a few distractions this week.