Baddeley eyes bigger prizes

AARON BADDELEY hopes his second PGA Tour victory is the start of something big, maybe even major.

“I want to be the best,” he said.

Tiger Woods has nothing to fear for now, Baddeley conceded, but a one-stroke win in the FBR Open in Scottsdale, Arizona on Sunday had the 26-year-old Australian talking about bigger titles.

“I want to win major championships. I mean, that’s where I want to go,” said Baddeley. “It’s a long way to go yet, I know that, a lot of hard work to be put in. But I’m definitely setting my sights on that.”

Baddeley birdied three of the final four holes and took advantage of Jeff Quinney’s late collapse to pick up his second win on tour. Baddeley, who also has US citizenship, won the Verizon Heritage last year.

It was a dramatic late turnaround for two golfers who are virtually neighbours in north Scottsdale.

Baddeley trailed Quinney by three shots with four holes to go but birdied the 15th, 16th and 17th.

“I’m sure Jeff is disappointed with the way he finished, but I was just trying to put pressure on him towards the end,” said Baddeley. “When I got three back, I was really just thinking if I can be one back playing the last hole, I’ve got a chance.”

As it turned out, he was up one with one hole to go. Baddeley said he felt much different after his second PGA Tour victory than he did after his first.

“The first one felt more of a relief,” he said, “where this one is more like ‘All right, now we’re making headway to where I want to go.’”

Quinney, a PGA Tour rookie after five seasons on the Nationwide Tour, had led since late in the second round but bogeyed the final two holes, marking the third straight tournament he has led or shared the lead in the last round but failed to win.

His misery began when his tee shot splashed into the water at the 332-yard, par four 17th.

“I was shocked to see it go left,” he said. “I was really confident I was just going to knock it on the middle of the green.”

Quinney’s third shot landed just four feet from the cup, but he missed the putt for a bogey.

Baddeley, meanwhile, rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt on the 17th to go from one shot behind to one ahead.

“That was probably one of the best putts I hit all week,” he said.

He said he felt best about his putting in the tournament. He’d been struggling with it and took his putter with him to practice in his hotel room for his best friend’s wedding last weekend.

Baddeley shot his second consecutive seven under 64 to finish at 21-under 196.

John Rollins tied the best round of the week at 63 and was second at 20 under, one shot ahead of Quinney (68).

Bart Bryant was fourth at 18 under par and veteran Billy Mayfair followed at 17 under.

“You knew a lot of birdies were going to be flying,” said Rollins. “The weather was perfect, the golf course has been fantastic all week. You just knew you had to make a bunch of birdies.”

Baddeley earned $1.08 million (€835,000) for the victory.

Quinney tried to be satisfied with his third consecutive top-seven finish.

“I’m just going to look back and learn a few things this week,” he said. “I mean, if you would have told me this a couple of weeks ago, that I’ve made whatever amount of money I made, I’d take that in a second.”

Going from first to third cost Quinney $672,000 in prize money.

“You know, I’m still a very confident player,” he said. “I can learn from it and just get better next time."

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox