Baddeley Finally Rising - Again

By Jerry FoltzOctober 8, 2002, 4:00 pm
This week, the Buy.Com Tour returns to the Phoenix area for the second staging of the Gila River Golf Classic at Wild Horse Pass Resort. Last years inaugural tournament also marked the first appearance on the Buy.Com Tour for one of the games most promising rising stars ' Aaron Baddeley.
During the planning stages of last years event, I was asked to do some minor consulting with the host organization responsible for the operation of the tournament. One of the things we discussed was how to handle the two sponsors exemptions which they controlled. Of the hundreds of requests they received, my thought was that Aaron Baddeley was probably the biggest name and would probably bring out the most fans.
At the time, the Diamondbacks were in the middle of their championship run in baseball, so our tournaments local media attention lacked somewhat. However, the valleys golf fans proved themselves savvy enough to know a good deal when they saw one and showed up in respectable numbers.
I remember when my producer dispatched me to go cover Baddeleys group. I was walking amongst a few in the gallery when this one gentleman approached me and said, 'I cant believe there isnt more gallery out here.' Well, it was late in the day and baseball was on TV, but there was a decent size gallery following Baddeley. The man continued, 'For $5 a day, I get a front row view of Aaron Baddeley. This is the greatest bargain ever for a golf fan.'
In time I believe the astute golf observer will be able to tell that story to a more disbelieving audience. But the point was well taken; Aaron Baddeley has about as much potential as anyone ever to tee up the golf ball in a Buy.Com Tour event. At the ripe old age of 21, Baddeley has a relatively long and proven resume. At 18 years old, he won the Australian Open as an amateur. The next year, he successfully defended - this time as a professional. Having already beaten many of the best players in the world, Baddeley opted to bypass the collegiate route and pursue his dream of following in his idols footsteps. Baddeley would someday like to play as many years in America as Greg Norman has, and he has designs on a couple of majors as well.
Pretty lofty talk for a 21-year-old, but when you talk to his peers, or should I say his competitors, they point to Aaron as the most talented of the lot. A day walking up and down the range asking about Baddeley netted such descriptions as 'a nearly perfect golf swing', and 'enough talent to win multiple majors'. Three-time Buy.Com Tour winner and typical class clown John Maginnes single-handedly voted him 'Most Likely to Succeed.'
The Buy.Com tour has been pretty fortunate through the years to see some amazing players come through the ranks. In 1990 it was Jeff Maggert and John Daly, in 1991 it was Tom Lehman, and the following years produced such current stars as David Duval, Ernie Els, Stuart Cink, and the list goes on and on. In time, and in my opinion, the tour will be able to look back at 2002 at feel fortunate to count Baddeley as one of its alums.
Last week at the Bank of America Monterey Peninsula Classic, a 25-year-old rookie stole the show by leading wire-to-wire and transcended his 112th position on the money list to capture the title. Roland Thatcher's play was awesome, but he even admitted he was feeling the pressure of the moment, and of the guy who was trying to catch him. Thatcher knew he was being chased by one of the best.
Baddeley never dropped enough putts to apply enough pressure, but he hung around all day and headed into the last hole two shots back and needing an eagle to have a chance. After Thatcher had laid up, Baddeley hit a laser-like missile of a 3-iron. It was just the kind of shot that champions hit when needed. I think it was my colleague Kay Cockerill who said, 'Baddeley has that ability to sense the moment.'
She was referring to the intangibles, those champion traits that usually cant be taught. In other sports its referred to as that desire to want the last shot. And when you combine world-class physical tools with the character of a champion, a relatively lethal talent results.
Aaron Baddeley moved up to 17th on the money list and is a great bet to finish the year in the top 15 and graduate directly to the PGA Tour for next year. As with most of the great ones to come through this tour, Baddeleys stay is but a sojourn. We havent gotten to enjoy him for too long on the Buy.Com Tour, but odds are well be seeing plenty of him on golfs grandest stage.
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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

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Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.