Move over 20-somethings with three or more PGA Tour wins…there's an "old guy" that joined the club on Sunday!
Aaron Baddeley, only 25 days short of his 30th birthday, won the Northern Trust Open at the famed Riviera CC for his third PGA TOUR victory.
There is a "young-gun" winning six-some now—Camilo Villegas, Hunter Mahan, Sean O'Hair, Dustin Johnson, Anthony Kim, and Baddeley. Johnson is the only 20-something with four wins to his name.
It has been four seasons since Baddeley's last win at the 2007 FBR Open plus another year to wind the clock back to his maiden win at the Verizon Heritage.
The last of his four Australian tour wins also came in 2007.
Baddeley is back winning by two strokes after shooting all four rounds in the 60s.
The Aussie finished in the Top-10 for the second straight week after a T6 last week at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, marking the first time he has back-to-back top 10s since August 2007.
Baddeley had dropped to World Number 274 at the end of 2010. With this win he jumps from No. 224 to 73.
It was a challenging Sunday for the child of destiny, who came out on tour with so much promise and expectations in 2000.
Playing partner and gallery favorite, Fred Couples started the final round with three birdies though in the end would suffer a Sunday 73 to finish T7.
Baddeley certainly took notice but was not rattled.
"I was still just trying to focus on my game and just try to do what I needed to do," Baddeley said. "I was still right there, I was still only one back. It wasn't like I was three back. For me it was just trying to keep doing what I was doing."
"I enjoy playing with Freddie. He's really a great bloke."
The father of two faced challenges early in the back 9 double bogeying the difficult par-4 12th hole.
But even then he still held a two stroke lead over Couples, Robert Allenby and Vijay Singh, who bogeyed the 13th.
After a bounce-back birdie made possible by a masterful long putt with lots of break, Baddeley put it into coast mode heading to the clubhouse.
"(I made) probably the best putt of the week right there. That really got me back on track."
A great second shot on par-5 17th sealed the victory. Hitting from the 5th fairway Baddeley hit a high fade through a distant gap in the Eucalyptus trees to get back into position on the hole and career wise.
"Just being able to forget everything and being able to hit that shot, that's part of the plan was just to be able to let it go and hit shots, so it was great."
"It's definitely been a couple of long years, but it was worth every bit, and I really feel that the last couple years is actually what made it easier today just because of having to battle and having to grow into so much for a couple years, the character that was just built in me."
He credits being back with his childhood and long time coach Dale Lynch for the resurgence in his career.
"To be able to come home—come back to Dale really felt like coming home because it felt like I was becoming a kid again, and that's what made it fun, you know."
In reality this man of faith was never really far from home.
"I'm one to quote scripture a lot, especially when I'm out there. One of my favorites is 2 Timothy 1:8. It says, "For God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and a sound mind." Whenever I get a little bit nervous I always quote that just because I know that -- I mean, as the scripture said, it said God didn't give us a spirit of fear. So, yeah, I always quote that. It helps calm me down just knowing I'm out there and the Lord's with me."
Baddeley is a man of patience with great humbleness as well.
Last summer at the Greenbrier he opened with a 65 and a rookie reporter asked him about his chances in the upcoming PGA Championship.
"I'm not in Whistling Straits right now. I got to win this week. I plan to be there. That would be nice. Have to have a good weekend and just try and get out there and have a chance to win on Sunday."
Well that Sunday came and he made the most of it at Riviera CC.
Baddeley (73) is now the eighth highest ranking Aussie behind Robert Allenby (OWGR No. 26), Adam Scott (27), Geoff Ogilvy (28), Jason Day (40), Richard Green (60), Brendan Jones (64) and Stuart Appleby (68).
Baddeley is the third Aussie to win in L.A., with Scott winning in 2005 and Allenby in 2001.
This year's International President's Cup Team Captain Greg Norman took notice and issued a congratulatory note: “Riviera has once again given up a victory to an Aussie, proving that the quality of players coming out of my homeland thrive on tough golf courses. Aaron has been very successful on tough, demanding and difficult tracks with his previous victories and this victory is no different, and one that is long overdue! He now catapults himself into a strong position to secure a spot on this year’s International Presidents Cup Team. I have always been a fan of Aaron, and personally, I am proud of him and his victory at the Northern Trust Open. As Captain of the International Team this year, I know he would be a very valuable asset to the team."
With time to earn a spot on the team or get a captain's pick similar to Adam Scott in 2009 at Harding Park Baddeley knows what a spot on that team would mean.
"To play a Presidents Cup in Australia, that would be like an absolute dream. I remember watching in '98 going down there and seeing the guys, Freddie, seeing Jim Furyk, seeing all the guys down there, seeing Norman playing, all those guys. I wanted to play in Presidents Cups. So it's definitely something that I'm going to keep working hard towards to try and make that team."
Baddeley is back in the Masters where in 5 starts his best finish is T17 in 2009, the year Angel Cabrera won.
"Yeah, I'm excited about that, very excited."
As we all are with your victory in L.A.
Congratulations and Happy upcoming Birthday… you are coming into your prime as a golfer and it will be exciting to watch!
Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer covering all four major American golf tours- the PGA TOUR, Champions, Nationwide and LPGA Tours.
Reistetter resides in Pont Vedra Beach, Florida near the PGA TOUR headquarters and home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
A lifetime golfer, Andy enjoys volunteering at the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Florida and pursuing his passion for the game of golf and everything associated with it.
Please comment directly on this article or email him at AndyReistetter@gmail.com