About Us Contact Us Advertise Newsletter

Golf tournaments, events, majors

Golf Today > Tour Schedules > 2006 > PGA Tour > Verizon Heritage > Round 4
 

VERIZON HERITAGE RELATED STORIES





Aaron Baddeley gains first PGA Tour win

Aaron Baddeley began the day in the most perfect place he could imagine, on Harbour Town's lighthouse closing hole speaking about his Christian faith.

He called on that faith hours later Sunday on the same hole, repeating part of a New Testament verse as he stood over the winning 6-foot par putt in the final round of the Verizon Heritage.

"I said, 'This is for you Jesus,' and knocked it in," Baddeley said.

Baddeley won his first PGA Tour title, rallying with two late birdies and finishing off Jim Furyk with a scrambling par on the 18th.

Baddeley was tied with Furyk entering the round, had a two-shot lead by the fifth hole, then was down by that many to Furyk after No. 11.

But the 25-year-old Australian proved unflappable, birdieing two of the hardest holes on the PGA Tour -- the 14th was statistically the hardest par 3 on tour last year and the 15th was the hardest par 5 -- to move in front for good.

Baddeley shot a 1-under 70 to finish at 15 under, a stroke ahead of Furyk (71) and two ahead of Vaughn Taylor (66) and Billy Mayfair (69).

"This is a stepping stone of the big picture," Baddeley said.

For his golf career, it's winning majors. For his life, it's following his faith.

Golf fans might best know Baddeley as the young hotshot in the golf commercial, driving a convertible with young female fans yelling his nickname, "Badds." It's an image the first-time winner says he's not fully comfortable with and one he expects will change over time.

"My scores don't dictate who I am," Baddeley said.

He aspires to use his golf career as a ministry to reach others. He celebrated his one-year anniversary this past Saturday. He eagerly agreed to the early morning service during The Players Championship, not knowing if he'd make the cut at Harbour Town.

Two days earlier, Baddeley closed his second round with an unlikely eagle at the famous lighthouse hole.

"At the 18th hole this morning, he was giving amazing testimony," said Baddeley's wife, Richelle. "Ten hours later, he's holding the trophy. So, it was great."

Furyk, the 2003 U.S. Open winner seeking his first victory since the Western Open last summer, was seemingly in the clear when his birdie on No. 10 and Baddeley's miscue on No. 11 put him up by two shots. However, Furyk missed a 5-footer for par on the 12th hole and could not match Baddeley's touch at the end.

Furyk had his chances to tie after Baddeley chunked a chip shot at the par-3 17th and made bogey. But Furyk followed by missing a 10-foot par putt to remain one back.

Again on the 18th hole, Furyk had a tying 12-foot birdie putt, but slid it left. Baddeley, who missed the green when his second shot went long and right, then won with the 6-foot par putt that caught the right edge of the cup and dropped in.

"I just needed some of those putts on the back nine to go in," said Furyk, who finished second at Harbour Town for the second straight year.

"The putt at 18, could have been the best putt I hit all week," Furyk said.

Baddeley raised his arms in triumph after his winning putt, Richelle squealing happily alongside the green.

Baddeley won $954,000 and, perhaps more importantly because he was ranked 158th on the money list coming in, gained a tour exemption through 2008.

He has three victories in Australia, winning the Australian Open as an 18-year-old amateur in 1999 and successfully defending his title as a professional in 2000.

Baddeley also won the 2001 Greg Norman Holden International, and finished 10th on the Nationwide Tour money list in 2002 to qualify for the PGA Tour. He has twice been a runner-up, in 2003 at the Sony Open and a year later in the Chrysler Classic of Tucson.

The golfer who kicked himself the most was probably Ernie Els.

Els was the only one of the world's top five players on hand after last week's Masters. He got himself back in the mix with 65 on Saturday and, with five top 10s in seven previous appearances here, seemed the logical choice for a thrilling final-round charge.

Els' shot-making skill was evident right away. After cracking his drive in the woods right of the first fairway, he punched a mid-iron through a narrow opening between two trees to about 5 feet of the cup. The birdie moved him within three shots of the lead as he stepped the par-5 second, a hole where he'd gone eagle-birdie-birdie the first three rounds.

This time, Els drove it out of bounds -- remember, the Big Easy blew the 2003 Verizon Heritage while leading when he went OB on No. 16 -- and made bogey.

Els rebounded with three more birdies on the front to close within two shots of Furyk and Baddeley. Els, though, could not mount a charge to get closer. He missed birdie putts inside of 10 feet on the ninth and 10th holes. His chances ended for good after bogeys on Nos. 12-13.

Still, Els' 71 left him tied for seventh at 10 under, his sixth top-10 finish in eight visits to Harbour Town.

 

 




Golf Today Classifieds

Advertise

Bookmark page with:
What are these Email This Page Subscribe Follow us on Twitter Top of Page
News Tours Rankings Tuition Course Directory Equipment Asian Travel Notice Board

© Golftoday.co.uk 1996-2014