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Aaron Baddeley needs to produce results

Thewords are still ringing in our ears even though they were uttered almost 12 months ago.

Not long after Aaron Baddeley, now 19, had become the youngest golfer to lift the Stonhaven Cup as Australian Open champion his father, Ron, vowed he would never "do to Aaron what Justin Rose’s father had done to him".

At 18,Englishman Rose turned professional immediately after almost winning the British Open at Royal Birkdale only to miss cut after cut and eventually lose all form and confidence.

So despite Aaron Baddeley becoming the first amateur since Bruce Devlin in 1960 to win the Australian Open at Royal Sydney last year leaving in his wake Colin Montgomerie, Greg Norman and Nick Faldo, Ron Baddeley would stick to his original three- year plan.

Team Baddeley would turn its back onseveral lucrative financial inducements from sponsors "to do a Justin Rose" and turn professional immediately.

It also refused to deviate from the career path which had been so meticulously mapped out for Aaron. That was for him to turn professional last week.

And inadvertently or otherwise, Ron Baddeley, may be just as guilty as the Rose camp when it comes to putting pressure on his son.

For while Aaron Baddeley may not have turned professional, he certainly had the blow torch applied to his belly once he was invited to play a number of events including the Masters at Augusta and the United States Open this year.

That he made the cut in just one of them – the Honda Classic early in the season -has created the perception that he may not be as good as we first thought.

Aaron Baddeley in action earlier this year at the US Open. Allsport.

At the moment it is just that – a perception – because Baddeley came up against top fields in the biggest events on the US Tour.

Remember, too, that he missed the cut at Augusta by just one shot - a great effort after being drawn with Tiger Woods on the first two days.

However, after the Royal and Ancient at St Andrews resisted pressure to give Baddeley an exemption into this year's British Open at St Andrews in July, he could not make it through pre-qualifying.

He cannot be condemned for that and his Australian Open victory – at just 18 years of age – was certainly no fluke.

But Baddeley needs a win just to ease the burden a little. His detractors were sceptical about the fanfare which accompanied his decision to turn professional.

He hired a bay at Melbourne’s Exhibition Centre, the announcement was hosted by top sports presenter Bruce McAvaney and there was a personal video message from Greg Norman.

All pretty harmless stuff taken in isolation. But add it to Baddeley rubbing shoulders with the game’s high flyers like Woods, Phil Mickelson and David Duval from day one in the United States and his relatively poor showing back in amateur ranks in late August when he joined the Australian team in Berlin for the World Amateur Championships (Eisenhower Cup).

He has two things in his favour though: His father Ron is aware of the pressure he has put on him and Aaron doesn’t appear in the least fazed by it.

Both admit, however, a win would see the pressure abate considerably.

Let’s hope it’s this week in Japan or perhaps a successful defence of his Australian Open crown at Melbourne’s Kingston Heath from November 23-26.

Otherwise there are plenty of former top amateurs – Adam Scott, Scott Gardiner, BradLamb, Brett Rumford (who won the 1999 Players Championship before turning pro) –capable ofassuming Baddeley’s mantle if they haven’t already done so.

 

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