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Phoenix birdies predicted by Aaron Baddeley

Australia's Aaron Baddeley won last year's Phoenix Open with three birdies in the last four holes and believes something similar will be required if he is to defend his title this week in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Twelve months ago, Baddeley fired successive seven-under-par 64s over the weekend at the TPC Scottsdale to clinch the second PGA Tour victory of his career by a shot.

"It's all about making putts because everyone is going to hit fairways, everyone is going to hit some greens," Baddeley told reporters on Tuesday during preparation for Thursday's opening round.

"The forecast is pretty good so you're going to have to shoot 20 under probably to win. Go out there, play hard, hit it straight and make some putts. That's the key. You've just got to putt well."

Scottsdale resident Baddeley, who took advantage of a stumbling finish by American Jeff Quinney to triumph last year with a 21-under total, is eager to build on a solid start to his 2008 campaign.

Buoyed by winning his first Australian Masters title two months ago, he tied for 12th at the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship and shared 13th spot at last week's Buick Invitational.

"I'm just trying to build on last year," Baddeley, 26, said. "I felt like last year was a good year. My consistency was a lot better than it had been in my previous years and I felt my game was going in the right direction.

"I'm just trying to build on how I played last year, and how I played towards the end of last year, winning in Australia and then coming back here. That gave me great confidence about my game."

World-ranked 17th, Baddeley would dearly love to win this week in front of his adopted home fans.

"It's going to be a great week," he said. "I always look forward to this week and this year is going to be special being defending champion. I just love playing here in Phoenix because it feels like my hometown."

Baddeley joins six other members of the world's top 20 in this week's field: second-ranked Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker (third), Rory Sabbatini (ninth), Vijay Singh (11th), Geoff Ogilvy (14th) and Trevor Immelman (20th).



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