Badds & # 039; fire still burns brightly

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Aaron Baddeley feels at ease again with his deadly putter.

Aaron Baddeley drives the SUV in Scottsdale, en route to pick up the "children" from school. He has five of them, ranging from two to ten, so his life is no less than entertainment, even when he is not playing golf.

The sound of the buzz is coming through the telephone. But he and his American wife Richelle have never even adopted a babysitter, which proves that the 13-year-old Baddeley wife is quite a bit. "She is incredible," he says. "She is a rock at home, keeping everyone in line, everything in order. She takes care of everyone. She is incredible. & # 39; & # 39;

The eight-seater is handy for the Aaron and Richelle family, daughters Jewell and Jolee and sons Jeremiah, Josiah and the youngest Jaddex, who has just turned two. The 12-seater in the driveway also gets a run, because Richelle Baddeley has three sisters who all live in Scottsdale, all with their own families. "Including our children, there are 13 nieces and nephews within 20 minutes of each other, & # 39; & # 39; he says." After church, or after a baseball game or a football game, we enter and we come have lunch. "

In the week that is bothering him, he does not play the American PGA Tour tournament for two reasons: first, his back is stiff and he wants it well and second, his oldest daughter Jewell has a solo to play at a piano recital in Scottsdale and he wants to experience the opportunity.

Second daughter Jolee loves to dance and will soon have her own solo performance; the boys love sports such as baseball and often a few chips in the short game area in the backyard of Baddeleys in Arizona. "The balance tries to play as much as possible and to stay at home as much as possible," he says. "I try not to miss things at home and to be here."

Aaron Baddeley and his family.

He never lost his Australian touch, although he is a dual citizen and was born in America, where his father Ron worked as a Formula 1 crew chief before the family moved to the eastern suburbs of Melbourne when Aaron was two. For example, he was happy to talk about the recent postponement of Gary Ablett Junior at the AFL tribunal. He has always been a supporter of Geelong and knows Ablett personally. "I think I follow the footy better than some Aussies still live in Australia," he says. "I am always in the app to view the highlights."

He has even retained his accent, just a hint of the American twang who has infiltrated his speech in 20 years. "Fortunately, I'm sticking to that!", He says.

Twenty years? Could it be so long ago that a pimply-faced boy from Wonga Park surprised the golf world by winning the 1999 Australian Open as an 18-year-old amateur in Royal Sydney, and then backed it up in 2000 as a professional at Kingston Heath before he goes to America to (theoretically, at least) become the best player in the world?

He is still working on it, even though the more cynical people have written him off at 38. At the end of the 2017-18 PGA Tour season, he lost his full playing rights, he finished 132nd on the point table, seven points outside where he had to his are. But with only provisional rights to include it in certain tournaments, he quickly got back in step.

At the Safeway Open in the Napa Valley in October, the first tournament of the wrap-around 2018-19 season, he qualified Monday and promptly finished fourth. In the Puerto Rico Open in February, he entered the final round and eventually finished second, and at the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship in the Dominican Republic in March, he was equal to the seventh.

The result is that he had earned $ US8 million in prize money by April and, just as importantly, had accumulated enough FedEx Cup points to know that, except for a disaster, he would again have full play rights for the 2019-20 season. This is quite a comeback; hardly the performance of a player on his last legs.

What happened? In his own words, the putter saved him. Baddeley is known as one of & # 39; the world's best with the short stick, but according to his standards he was on the greens, the 89th and the 128th on tour in 2017 and 2018 in the most accurate number to reveal it – strokes achieved with wells. For a player who is routinely in the top 10 (nine times in the 15 years that the statistics were calculated, including No.1 in 2015 and No.2 in 2014) this was a disaster. His famous putting had left him.

His explanation is simple. He had an equipment deal with Ping for which he had to use their putters, and although the money was good and he loved the irons and the woods, he needed a different putter. That is why, when he nearly won Puerto Rico this year, he had no approval on his cap or shirt, a rarity in this era. He has an old-school Odyssey No. 7 putter deployed, he has been using it since then and he is back in the top 20 of the putting statistics.

The Ping irons and forests are still there, but not the old putter. "I wanted to make sure I had the flexibility to use what I wanted with the putter," he says. "That's why I didn't sign deals. I still use Ping equipment and a Vokey wedge; I just changed the putter. I mean, I want equipment companies unless they pay your life-changing money, it's not worth it. & # 39; & # 39;

Perhaps the most significant change for Baddeley has been a period without a coach. For a player who is known to tinker with his swing – and who has worked a cluster of coaches from Dale Lynch to David Leadbetter to Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett's controversial Stack and Tilt method, to Scott Hamilton to Brad's brother-in-law, Brad Malone last year – the deliberate decision of the Victorian to do it alone is interesting.

It is a plan that would warm the heart of the late Peter Thomson, who always thought that professional players leaned too much on coaches when they were better – to solve their own problems. Baddeley says that Hamilton helped him when he was "lost" in his swing, and that Malone, his most recent coach, "gave me the keys I needed to work on my swing, and from there just be myself, me "m working on those keys & # 39; & # 39 ;.

But the irony is that it works well for him and he feels that he "owns" his swing again. "It's really very simple compared to what it used to be," he says. "Right now I have the keys I am working on, and I understand why the Justin Thomases, the Justin Roses, the Jason Days can always play well or often, or go out to photograph one day longer and then six-under the next day, because they are just working on the same things.

"It's not like they're trying to reinvent the wheel the next day. It's like: & # 39; Hey, I know what I'm doing. I just have to go out and do it. There was a little thing on it a certain day. It's a 15-minute session and you're doing well again. & # 39; That's how it is for me. "

He doesn't practice as hard as before; does not feel the need. "I work hard, but I don't have to bet ten hours," he says. "That is not what is needed. It is more a few practice hours and then a few games with friends for money where you have to hit the ball or go up and down or make the putt to win the hole or the game or what it is. That is where I am now. It is more so that instead of trying to find a game or build a game. The game is built. It is a matter of keeping it sharp. "

Baddeley was a prodigy from the moment he won the Croydon club championship at 14, but the chart didn't always go north, needless to say. It rarely happens, and he points to Jordan Spieth, the former world number 1 who slipped out of the top 30 in early 2019, a similar example to his own. "He (Spieth) did some things that – I think he said – he didn't know he did. It was done naturally and now he had to learn why he did that and how he did it. I think if I only had the experience that I have now, if I had the knowledge that I have now when I was 22 years old, how different that would be, but the only way to gain experience is to have the experience. can't read a book or have someone explain your experience. "

Although he has not met the incredibly high expectations he had, he has hardly been a failure. If he stopped playing tomorrow, he would go down as one of our best players ever. He won four times on the main tour, along with two national championships, stayed on tour for two decades and raised $ 21 million in the prize pool.

And anyway, he sees it as a work in progress. He has set himself the goal of settling the international team at the December Presidential Cup in Royal Melbourne, and embracing the future.

"I absolutely believe that my best wave is ahead of me," he says. "There is not even a question about it, the best is yet to come. The reason I can say that is that I have a good understanding of my entire game. It is at a level that it has never been before. It's simplicity I can pause, not touch a club, and I'll be back and it's not like I'm experimenting, I'm not experimenting with anything, in the sense of & # 39; let's try this & # 39; or & # 39; let's try, it could work & # 39; no, I have my blueprint, I know what works, and I'm just going to work on that blueprint. & # 39; & # 39;

It is an image that is seen as optimistic in some circles. But let's hope he's right.

First published in the Golf Victoria magazine

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