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Aaron Baddeley
Baddeley skips Ernie Els invite
Baddeley receives praise from all quarters
Baddeley intends to remain amateur for now
1999 Australian Open

Baddeley intends to remain amateur for now

Aaron Baddeley could have been a little richer after winning the Australian Open -- if he wasn't still an amateur.

Even so, Baddeley's father, Ron, is determined his son will remain an amateur player until at least next year.

Aaron Baddeley, 18, became the youngest champion in the 95-year history of the Australian Open on Sunday and the first amateur winner in 39 years.

If he had been a professional, Baddeley, who finished at 14-under 274 on the Royal Sydney course, would also have won nearly $115,000.

"At the earliest, we'll start thinking about it in August next year and we may wait until he's 20 -- that was the original plan," Ron Baddeley said.

He said the experience of English golfer Justin Rose, who turned professional after finishing fourth in the British Open as a 17-year-old in 1998, but then proceeded to miss more than 20 consecutive cuts, has assured him he's taken the right path with his son.

"Justin Rose -- I almost weep for him," Ron Baddeley said. "If I had been his father, there's no way I would have let him turn pro at 17."

The elder Baddeley, who worked briefly as a mechanic for IndyCar driver Mario Andretti, thinks his son is best served playing another year as an amateur to participate in the U.S. Amateur, the Northeast Amateur, the Western Amateur and the Porter Cup.

He is also trying to get his son an entry into one or two U.S. PGA Tour events, but has not considered the majors.

He said Sunday's win in the Open "doesn't change anything at all."

Baddeley is the first amateur winner since Bruce Devlin in 1960, and is six days younger than Ivo Whitton was when he won the 1912 tournament.

He opened with a 67 and added rounds of 68 and 70 to take a one-stroke lead into the final round.

"I believed in my ability," said Baddeley, who closed with a 3-under 69 Sunday for a two-stroke victory over fellow Australians Greg Norman and Nick O'Hern.

"I thought I could win. I played to the best of my ability and it was good enough. You dream about this. I dreamed I could win when I practiced here a few weeks ago."

Norman closed with a 69, and O'Hern shot a 70.

Scotland's Colin Montgomerie, who Baddeley was paired with on Sunday, shot a 71 and tied for fourth with Ireland's Paul McGinley and New Zealand's Michael Long.

Montgomerie birdied the first two holes to tie Baddeley at 12-under, but the teen-ager regained the lead with a birdie at No. 3.

The Scot slipped back with a bogey at No. 5, and Baddeley opened a three-stroke lead when he topped Montgomerie's birdie at the par-5 seventh with an eagle.

Long, playing in the group ahead of Baddeley and Montgomerie, moved within a stroke of Baddeley with a birdie at No. 13.

But Baddeley responded again, holing a 15-foot birdie putt at No. 13, while Long bogeyed No. 14.