A TOP TEN finish by Aaron Baddeley and an impressive performance by 17 year old Ryan Ruffels in his pro debut were the highlights for the Aussies at the US PGA Tour’s 2016 Farmers Insurance Open.
After years of tinkering with his swing trying to make things perfect Baddeley, who lost his full tour status last year, has decided to get back to basics and make golf simple and fun again.
At a Torrey Pines layout lashed by wind and rain that caused a number of play delays – and saw the final round paused overnight for a Monday finish – Baddeley ended up on 1-under tied for eighth.
The 34 year old Aussie has three tour wins but things have been a little lean since he took the Northern Trust Open in February 2011.
After 13 years on the tour last year he was relegated to the secondary Web.com Tour with limited PGA starts.
Since the 2015/16 season began Baddeley has made the most of his two starts, finishing T4 at the Sanderson Farms Championship last November and with his latest T8 moving to 84th in the FedEx Cup standings.
Interviewed by AAP after the third round at Torrey Pines Baddeley seemed to be having the time of his life, despite all and sundry being lashed by the stormy weather.
“The confidence is growing so that’s exciting,” said Baddeley, who was something of a teenage sensation himself, winning the Australian Open as a 19 year old amateur in 1999 and repeated the effort the following year as a pro.
“Golf is fun again. I won’t go practice now. I used to go grind on the range, try to figure something out, or maintain it, but now without the grind my energy levels are better.
“It is great. I am playing golf again, not trying to figure it out.
“Today I drove it beautifully and you have to around here. It’s becoming normal now to just stand up there and hit quality shots.
“I can stand with confidence and just hit it straight as opposed to trying to hit a big fade or cut in there.
“The two words this week are trust and commit.”
For Ryan Ruffels his first outing as a pro ended with an eagle on the last to see him finish at 5-over tied for 43rd (and pocketing a check for $20,843.)
Tied forty third might not sound too good, but take into account those missing the cut included the likes of (a flu affected) defending champion Jason Day, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose and Ruffels’ fellow Aussies Marc Leishman, Rod Pampling, Cameron Smith, Jarrod Lyle, Jason Day, Geoff Ogilvy, Cameron Percy and Rhein Gibson.
Eventual winner Brandt Snedeker compared the conditions to be like playing on a difficult US Open course set up in the worst of British Open weather.
Snedeker somehow shot a 3-under 69 on Sunday to set the clubhouse lead at 6-under. That was shortly before play was to be delayed overnight with Jimmy Walker in the lead at 7-under.
Walker came out Monday and shot 4-over in 8 holes and no-one else was able to better the conditions and run down Snedeker.
“This has probably been the most nerve wracking four hours I’ve had on TOUR, just because of the lack of control I had over everything that’s going to happen today,” Snedeker said Monday after pacing his hotel room as the final day played out “I had no idea what to expect.”
It was Snedeker’s eight Tour win.
KJ Choi (76) was second on 5-under with Kevin Streelman (74) thied on 4-under.
Matt Jones (75) was the next best Aussie after Baddeley, finishing at 4-over tied for 31st.
The US PGA Tour moves on to the Waste Management Phoenix Open at the TPC Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Arizona this week, where Brooks Koepka is the defending champion.