Baddeley captures Northern Trust Open

By Doug FergusonFebruary 21, 2011, 5:27 am

Northern Trust Open

LOS ANGELES – Finally a winner again, Aaron Baddeley raised his arms when his last putt dropped into the cup Sunday in the Northern Trust Open as his wife and two young daughters came over to share the moment.

They might have been among the few cheering him on at Riviera.

Baddeley could hear chants of “Freddie!” at every turn, and it got even louder when Fred Couples birdied the opening three holes to take the lead. Unfazed, Baddeley cared only about a victory that was just as meaningful to him.

“I thought Freddie was going to be tough today because winning is a skill, and Freddie has been winning quite often recently,” Baddeley said. “When he got off to a good start, I was like, ‘Freddie looks like he’s going to have one of those days where he’s going to play great.’ I was still just trying to focus on my game, and try to do what I needed to do.”

He did just enough.

In a battle of generations, the 29-year-old Australian made his best putt after his only big mistake and closed with a 2-under 69 to hold off Vijay Singh and Couples, and win for the first time in four years.

Baddeley wound up with a two-shot win over Singh, who turns 48 on Tuesday. The big Fijian closed with a 69 for his best finish in more than two years. Couples, who still had hope on the 16th, bogeyed two of the last three holes and shot 73 to tie for seventh in his bid to become the PGA Tour’s oldest winner in more than 35 years.

“I’m a golfer, so I’m disappointed,” Couples said.

With his tender back, it only took one hole for the 51-year-old Couples to fall apart. Tied for the lead, he pushed his tee shot into the barranca to the right of the seventh fairway in grass so thick he had trouble finding his ball. Couples gave it a ferocious whack, and the ball came out to the left and into a bunker. He wound up making double bogey, a three-shot swing when Baddeley holed a 20-footer for birdie from the fringe.

“I just didn’t feel the same after that,” Couples said. “I didn’t really hurt myself, but I never hit a shot, and I just got it around. I mean, I couldn’t hit an iron. I hit a few good drives, but I was afraid to hit the ground, hitting it that hard out of that stuff. I did get off to a good start, and that was where it ended.

“It’s nothing bad,” he said. “I’m not having any excuse. It’s just after that point, I never hit a shot.”

It was the third career PGA Tour win for Baddeley, whose game had slipped so much that he had plunged to No. 224 in the world. This isn’t enough to get back into the top 50, but at least he can book a trip to Augusta National in April for the Masters.

Singh, who only three weeks ago had fallen out of the top 100 in the world for the first time in more than 21 years, had his highest finish since he won the Deutsche Bank Championship in 2008 on his way to the FedEx Cup. Despite back-to-back bogeys on the back nine, he gave himself a chance to the very end.

Singh said it was the best week with the putter in his career, which would include his 2000 Masters victory. He took only 105 putts for the week, including just one three-putt in the second round.

“That’s a great, great thing to have when you’re putting well,” Singh said. “I haven’t done that for a long, long time. This is going to get me some places.”

Baddeley, who finished at 12-under 272, won for the first time since the 2007 Phoenix Open. He had been one of the early proponents of the “Stack & Tilt” swing method until deciding to go back to his old teacher, Dale Lynch, two years ago. His goal was to be able to move the ball both ways without having to think about it, and the swing held up just fine on a sunny afternoon along Sunset Boulevard.

“To be honest, it felt like coming home,” Baddeley said of his return to Lynch, his first coach as a teenager in Australia. “Dale and I have spent a lot of hours together, and at times it’s been frustrating, but like I said, that end product … we knew what we were working toward, and that was the key.”

Kevin Na made good putts on the last two holes for a 71 that put him alone in third place.

Couples was showing his age on the practice range, where his back is so tender that he only warms up with a driver and fairway metals to stay more upright. With a driver in hand, he teed up two balls at a time to keep from stooping over.

On the course, he looked like the Couples of old.

Couples opened with three straight birdies to bring Riviera to life, just like the old days. He chipped in for birdie from just off the second green, pointing his club to the cup with his left hand in a pose that has become familiar over the years. Then came a 20-foot birdie on the third to give him the outright lead.

But it started to come undone on the par-3 sixth, where the tee was moved forward and the pin was front and right, away from the bunker in the middle of the green. He flared it to the right and missed a 4-foot par putt.

And then came what he called a “comedy of errors” on the seventh.

Equipped with the lead, Baddeley never let it go. His only mistake was hitting into the trees on consecutive shots and missing a 2 1/2 -foot putt to take double bogey on the 12th. Baddeley responded swiftly, making a 20-foot birdie putt from the fringe with 8 feet of break.

He made pars the rest of the way, and no one could catch him.

“It’s definitely been a couple of long years, but it was worth every bit,” Baddeley said. “I really feel that the last couple years is actually what made it easier today … the character that was just built in me.”

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Phil rubs fan's Donald Duck hat seven times, signs it

By Nick MentaJune 18, 2018, 3:09 pm

There is a case to be made that what Phil Mickelson did on Saturday made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

There is also a case to be made that the USGA's setup of Shinnecock Hills made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

Whatever you think about what Mickelson did on Saturday - and how he attempted to justify it after the fact without even a hint of remorse - watch this video.

The next time you hear someone say, "If anybody else had putted a moving ball on purpose and not apologized for it, it would get a different reaction," you can point to this video and say, "Yeah, here's why."

Here's what happened once a still-strident Mickelson was done rubbing Donald Duck hats on Sunday, per Ryan Lavner:

If you’re wondering whether Mickelson would be defiant or contrite on Sunday, we don’t know the answer. He declined to stop and speak with the media, deciding instead to sign autographs for more than a half hour and then offering a few short answers before ducking into player hospitality.

“The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. “I don’t know.”

The 2024 Ryder Cup at Bethpage is going to be a three-ring circus, and Mickelson, a likely choice to captain the U.S. team, will be the ringmaster.

Separately, shoutout to 2017 Latin Am champ Toto Gana, who does a terrific Donald Duck (skip to end).

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Ryder Cup race: Mickelson out, Simpson in

By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 2:34 pm

There's a new man at the top of the U.S. Ryder Cup race following the U.S. Open, and there's also a familiar name now on the outside looking in.

Brooks Koepka's successful title defense vaulted him to the top of the American points race, up four spots and ensuring he'll be on the team Jim Furyk takes to Paris in September. Dustin Johnson's third-place finish moved him past Patrick Reed at No. 2, while Webb Simpson entered the top eight after a a tie for 10th.

While Bryson DeChambeau remained at No. 9, Phil Mickelson dropped two spots to No. 10. Tony Finau, who finished alone in fifth, went from 16th to 13th, while Tiger Woods fell two spots to No. 37.

Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:

1. Brooks Koepka

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Patrick Reed

4. Justin Thomas

5. Jordan Spieth

6. Rickie Fowler

7. Bubba Watson

8. Webb Simpson

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9. Bryson DeChambeau

10. Phil Mickelson

11. Matt Kuchar

12. Brian Harman

On the European side, England's Tommy Fleetwood took a big stride toward securing his first Ryder Cup appearance with a runner-up finish that included a Sunday 63 while countryman Matthew Fitzpatrick snuck into a qualifying spot after tying for 12th.

Here's a look at the updated Euro standings, with the top four from both points lists joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn at Le Golf National:

European Points

1. Tyrrell Hatton

2. Justin Rose

3. Tommy Fleetwood

4. Francesco Molinari

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5. Thorbjorn Olesen

6. Ross Fisher

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Rory McIlroy

3. Alex Noren

4. Matthew Fitzpatrick

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5. Ian Poulter

6. Rafael Cabrera-Bello

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Koepka autographs local kids' 'Go Brooks' sign after win

By Grill Room TeamJune 18, 2018, 2:30 pm

Brooks Koepka is a two-time U.S. Open winner, but that doesn't mean he's now too big to go sign a couple pieces of cardboard in somebody's front yard in the middle of the night.

Koepka's girlfriend, Jena Sims, posted two pictures to her Instagram story on Sunday of "Go Brooks" signs she says were put up by some local kids in the area where Koepka was staying for the week.

The first is dated prior to Koepka's final-round tee time.



The second is from Sunday night.



And here, separately, for no reason in particular (other than the fact that she posted it) is a video of Sims running over a parking cone at last year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills.

Speaking of kids, just feels those two are gonna make it.

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Koepka moves to No. 4 in world with U.S. Open win

By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 2:05 pm

After successfully defending his U.S. Open title, Brooks Koepka reached a new career high in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Koepka held off Tommy Fleetwood to win by a shot Sunday at Shinnecock Hills, becoming the first player to go back-to-back in nearly 30 years. As a result, he jumped five spots in the latest rankings to No. 4, six spots higher than he reached with last year's U.S. Open victory at Erin Hills.

Fleetwood finished alone in second place and moved up two spots to No. 10, tying his career-best placement. Patrick Reed moved up two spots to No. 11 by finishing fourth, while fifth-place Tony Finau went from No. 37 to No. 31.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


It was a largely quiet week in the rankings despite the fact that a major championship was contested. Outside of Koepka and Finau, the only other player inside the top 50 to move up or down more than three spots was Jason Dufner, who went from 53rd to 48th with a T-25 finish.

Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1 for the second consecutive week, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Koepka and Jordan Spieth. Jon Rahm dropped one spot to No. 6, with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Fleetwood rounding out the top 10. Hideki Matsuyama fell two spots to No. 12, dropping out of the top 10 for the first time since October 2016.

Despite a missed cut at Shinnecock, Tiger Woods actually moved up one spot to No. 79 in the latest rankings. He plans to play the Quicken Loans National and The Open in the coming weeks, which will be his final two chances to move into the top 50 in time to qualify for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The event is being held for the final time this summer at Firestone Country Club, where Woods has won eight times.