The Cut : The Cut - Winter 2017
36 THE CUT “It’s a juggling act, but you know exactly what time you need to leave home to get to one place and then to pick another one up from somewhere else.” he said. And life for the Baddeleys won’t become simpler any time soon, with wife Richelle expecting the couple’s fifth child any day now. “ The car knows how to get to the maternity ward on auto pilot,” Baddeley mused. Hard to believe that, a half lifetime ago, a 19-year-old Baddeley won the 1999 Australian Open title at Royal Sydney Golf Club as an amateur – the first non-pro to do so since Bruce Devlin in 1960 – capturing the hearts and attention of Australian golf fans in the process. We well remember the clean-cut young man with the precocious putting stroke, nervelessly holding his better-known rivals at bay to take out the Stonehaven Cup with one of his best mates on the bag, Dion Kipping. It all looked so carefree and simple and when Baddeley backed it up with a successful defence at Kingston Heath, the world pondered whether we were witnessing the rise of a young tyro to challenge the new sensation, Tiger Woods. The years have ticked by and Baddeley would concede his career hasn’t quite lived up to his own and others’ lofty expectations, although it’s a career most would gladly replicate. You don’t win four PGA Tour titles, bank nearly $20 million in earnings and maintain your status on the biggest stage for the better part of 17 years by laying sod over the ball, but Baddeley’s ups and downs within that time have been well documented. His fourth PGA Tour title at last year’s Barbasol Championship in Alabama served both to assure his immediate future on tour and, perhaps more poignantly, reignite confidence in his ability to aspire once again to game’s highest level. “Having the win last year has allowed me to plan my schedule well. Last year, I couldn’t really do that because I didn’t know if I’d be in an event until the last minute,” he said. “Having that win was key, as it allows me to put a plan in place and work out when I needed to work really hard in a block of time to get my game to where it needs to be. “It also gives my wife and I the chance to better plan for things like when we might go away for a holiday and have a good time.” With his immediate future assured, Baddeley returned home to Australia last November and narrowly missed claiming a third Australian Open title back at Royal Sydney. Better known for his short game and putting prowess, Baddeley belied his relatively poor ball-striking statistics on tour by showcasing the amount of work he had been doing with an eye-catching display from tee to green. Those who witnessed his warm-up before the final round, with major champions Geoff Ogilvy and Jordan Spieth to his left and right, could not have been more impressed by the purity of his striking with every club in the bag. This form has continued on throughout 2017 and despite some missed cuts he has remained enthused by the sustained improvement in his game, culminating in his high finish in Texas. “I was pleased, it was good. It’s been on the cards for a while.” Baddeley said of his week in San Antonio. “My game has never been as simple as it is right now. There’s no more searching, there’s just refinement of little things you need to focus on to pull off certain shots when you’re nervous or in certain conditions. “Last week for example, it was a tough course, it was windy and I think I finished first in strokes gained in approach to the greens. I believe it’s the first time I’ve ever done that. “I finished up there in strokes gained off the tee in Houston, too, so it’s good to see from fruit from the labour and the things you need to do to play great.” Baddeley’s efforts have not been confined to the physical and technical elements of his game but have extended to a complete overhaul of his preparation, along with a new appreciation of the benefits of rest. “I’ve been working with Brad Malone this year and have been very detailed with that, keeping notes of everything I do so that we’re able to review and prepare properly,” he said. “Even down to where I might miss a cut, like at Hilton Head this year. I missed the cut there and instead of practising for two days over the weekend, I took time off and came home to Phoenix and spent four days with the family over Easter. Aaron Baddeley celebrates winning the 1999 Australian Open at the Royal Sydney Golf Course.
The Cut - Autumn 2017
The Cut - Spring 2017