AARON BADDELEY has ended a long drought on the US PGA Tour with a rousing victory at the Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles.
The 29 year old Australian took the Northern Trust Open by two strokes after holding off final round challenges by tour veterans Vijay Singh and Fred Couples.
It was Baddeley’s third tour win and his first in almost four years.
“It’s definitely been a couple of long years, but it was worth every bit, and I really feel that the last couple years is actually what made it easier today,” said Baddeley, who returned to his original coach Dale Lynch in March 09.
“Like today, I struggled on the 12th hole, made a silly double there, and just to be able to let it go and get onto the next hole and forget about it and hit two nice shots there and make a birdie, that was key.”
Baddeley was something of a teenage prodigy, winning the Australian Open as a teenage amateur, but a few years back went with new coaches teaching the Stack and Tilt swing method.
Lynch has him back working with the original swing that bought him worldwide attention.
“I knew what I was working towards. Even though I got frustrated at times and discouraged at times, I still knew my end goal, so I was able to be patient. That was the key,” he said of his last few years with Lynch.
Baddeley finished with four rounds in the 60’s, coming home with a two under 69 to finish at 12 under on 272.
Singh, just a few days short of his 48th birthday, closed with a 69 for 274 while Couples, who started the day one shot behind Baddeley, had to settle for a two-over 73 to finish tied for seventh.
Korean-American Kevin Na (71) was alone in third place on 275.
Couples got off to a blazing start with three straight birdies and Baddeley had to play much of his round with crowd chants of “Freddie, Fredddie, Freddie” ringing in his ears.
“I knew he was going to be the fan favorite, and I mean, no reason why he shouldn’t be. He’s been such a great player over the years, and I mean, the fans just love him,” Baddeley said.
The win will not only add US$1,170,000 to Baddeley’s bank balance but will also give him a start at the US Masters in six weeks time.
Robert Allenby shot a final round 68 to be tied for fourth while Stuart Appleby (70) finished T12 and Geoff Ogilvy (69) and John Senden (73) finished T21.