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Baddeley Excited About Stateside Start

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Even though he's a full day's flight from home, Australian Aaron Baddeley should feel comfortable this week at the Honda Classic.
 
For one thing, the winds are blowing mightily at the TPC at Heron Bay in Coral Springs, Fla. For another, he's one of 12 Aussies in this week's field.
 
After an enormously successful rookie campaign on the Australasian Tour, the 19-year-old makes his stateside debut in 2001.
 
Baddeley is coming off a season in which he won twice and captured the Order of Merit in his homeland. His first victory came in a triumphant title defense at the Australian Open, which he won as an amateur in 2000. Win No. 2 came in a playoff over Sergio Garcia at the Greg Norman Holden International.
 
Baddeley is looking to duplicate his success in the U.S. Last year, he made his maiden PGA Tour start as an amateur in the Honda. He tied for 57th. It was the only cut he made in nine starts, including the Masters and U.S. Open.
 
Once again, he'll be given seven sponsor's exemptions to go along with a pair of invites to Augusta and Southern Hills, site of this year's U.S. Open. And he's anticipating vastly different results.
 

'I know what to expect, last year I didn't,' Baddeley said prior to his Wednesday practice round. 'I can prepare for it better. I'm a year older, a year more mature, and an overall better player.'
 
This will be Baddeley's lone PGA Tour start before the Masters. Afterwards, he's committed to play in the WORLDCOM Classic at Hilton Head, the Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic, the COMPAQ Classic of New Orleans, the Kemper Open, the Memorial Tournament and the U.S. Open.
 
His goal, as it is with any tournament he enters, is to win. That's something he's been criticized for abroad, namely by Butch Harmon, Tiger Woods' coach. Baddeley finds such comments hypocritical.
 
'Tiger expects to win everytime he tees up. I'm no different. I can win and I believe I can win,' Baddeley said matter-of-factly.
 
'I don't play to prove anyone wrong. I just play to enjoy and win. I love playing and to win golf tournaments.'
 
Should he win along the way, Baddeley would accomplish another of his goals - to attain his 2002 PGA Tour card.
 
One player who beleives it won't be long until Baddeley fulfills his potential in the U.S. is Phil Mickelson, who was also a golfing prodigy.
 
The 18-time PGA Tour winner has played a few rounds with the teenager and says, 'He is fundamentally one of the most sound players that you will see and so the more time that he plays, the longer he plays, the better he will get.
 
'He is going to be a tremendous player. I think that he is going to be a tremendous player for quite some time.'