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Aaron Baddeley turns professional

Australian Open golf champion Aaron Baddeley has turned professional and says he is aiming to play his way onto the US PGA Tour next year.

Baddeley, 19, will defend his Australian Open title at Kingston Heath later this month instead of trying for a US PGA Tour card at the qualifying school.

But he hopes to earn enough prize-money while playing US tour events on sponsor invitations next year to gain a players card on the world strongest and most lucrative circuit.

Baddeley's management has refused to put a figure on his expected sponsorship earnings, saying he is still testing equipment and has not chosen what brands he will use.

However it is certain the former amateur star from Melbourne's Croydon Golf Club will become an instant multi-millionaire within weeks.

Baddeley leaves for his first professional tournament, next week's Taiheiyo Masters in Japan, on Sunday before returning to play in the Australian Open, the Australian PGA Championship and an Open tournament in South Australia.

He says he does not feel any added pressure because of turning professional.

"I feel it is more of a thankyou to everyone that has been there and helped me over the years than putting extra pressure on me," he said.

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