Baddeley Win a Reminder that Tiger Lacks Young Rival
Golf seemed easy when he was an 18-year-old amateur who caused such a sensation with his victory in the 1999 Australian Open that the Masters and U.S. Open gave him exemptions, and Tiger Woods called him a better ball-striker than he was at that age.
His swing was fundamentally sound.
And when Baddeley refused to flinch against Colin Montgomerie and Greg Norman to win the Australian Open seven years ago, he had a clear of vision of where he wanted to go, how to get there and whom he had to beat.
'My goal is to become better than Tiger,' Baddeley said at the time. 'If Tiger is the best player in the world, and I want to be the best player in the world, then I have to be better than Tiger. He's the benchmark, and I want to get better than the benchmark.'
Instead, Baddeley has become another statistic.
His victory in the Verizon Heritage is cause for celebration. The seven-year journey to a PGA Tour title ended with a 7-foot par putt that curled in the right side of the cup on the final hole for a one-shot victory over former U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk. And the way Baddeley raised his arms over his head and closed his eyes showed this was as much about relief as sheer satisfaction.
'I feel like I've been out here forever,' he said. 'And I'm only 25.'
In a peculiar way, though, his victory was another reminder that youth continues to fall short of expectations.
Baddeley joins a list of other young players who were billed as the next challenge to Woods, but who have not done anything to merit further consideration.
'I've worked hard since I first started playing the game at age 7, and that's always been my goal to be the best player in the world,' Charles Howell III said at the Memorial in 2001 during his rookie-of-the-year season. He won a year later, is still sitting on one PGA Tour victory and is no longer the highest-ranked Howell (that would be David Howell of England).
Justin Rose, who tied for fourth as a 17-year-old at the 1998 British Open, finally has a PGA Tour card, but not a trophy. Adam Scott was 23 when he became the youngest winner of The Players Championship, but he has yet to contend in a major. David Gossett won the U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach in 1999, shot 59 at Q-school a year later and won the John Deere Classic in 2001, the first player since Woods to win a PGA Tour event on a sponsor's exemption. Now, he doesn't even have status on the Nationwide Tour.
Has anyone heard from Ty Tryon lately?
Before anyone knew of Baddeley, the promising young star was 19-year-old Sergio Garcia, who chased Woods down the fairways of Medinah at the '99 PGA Championship, went 3-1-1 at the Ryder Cup and embraced a rivalry before he had a driver's license.
'If they compare you with a good player, that means that you have something in your game,' Garcia said when he made his PGA Tour debut as a professional in the '99 Byron Nelson Classic.
After winning twice on the PGA Tour, Garcia began 2002 by saying his goal was to become the first player to win the money title on both sides of the Atlantic. And when asked that day whether he was closing the gap on Woods, Garcia replied, 'He's 26. I think that I can be as good as he is at 26 when I'm 26, or hopefully sooner.'
Garcia now is 26 and no closer to Woods that he was four years ago, starting with the fact he hasn't won a major.
And he's the best of the young players.
Instead, Woods' challengers are coming from experience.
Vijay Singh was approaching 40 when he set a target of becoming No. 1 in the world at the end of the '02 season. He worked harder than ever on the range and in the gym for two years, and finally took Woods down in 2004 by winning nine times, rising to No. 1 after beating Woods head-to-head on Labor Day outside Boston.
The latest challenge is from Phil Mickelson, who turns 36 during the U.S. Open, where he will be going after his third consecutive major. Mickelson was better than today's young crop of players when he was their age, but it took him winning a major -- now at three straight years winning a major -- for him to be a certifiable threat.
Ernie Els has been part of the picture as long as Mickelson, winning the U.S. Open right after Woods' watershed victory in the '97 Masters, and winning the British Open in 2002 when Woods was going after the Grand Slam. The Big Easy turns 37 in October.
It's not too late for a youngster to emerge as a serious threat to Woods.
Garcia remains the top candidate, and while he struggled at the Masters, he is one victory away from moving into the top five in the world ranking, and one major away from being perceived differently.
There is plenty of attention on rookie J.B. Holmes after he won in Phoenix by seven shots, and on Camilo Villegas of Columbia with his three top-3 finishes (in two of those, he was a combined 16 shots out of the lead). But until any of them wins consistently against strong fields, or captures a major, who's to say they won't be another David Gossett or Justin Rose?
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off
NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.
Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.
The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.
Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.
Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.
Third-round tee times for the 147th Open
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.
Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.
Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.
Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.
Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.
4:15AM ET: Gavin Green
4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed
4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose
4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton
4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley
5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner
5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson
5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)
5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood
5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello
6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford
6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma
6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele
6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood
6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na
6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin
7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim
7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira
7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters
7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li
7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker
7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink
8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook
8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris
8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim
8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari
8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson
8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell
9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka
9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott
9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren
9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone
9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett
10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler
10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell
10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau
10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen
10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele
10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood
11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson
Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.
He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.
“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.
At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.
Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.
“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”
Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?
Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.
Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.
“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”
Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.
Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.
“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.
More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.
“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”