The golf world's attention was on Troon last week, but there was a corresponding PGA Tournament contested in the United States. And though the Barbasol Championship is designated as an "alternate event," the winner's reaction can only be defined in the superlative.
Aaron Baddeley was once a promising star in golf. He led the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont after three rounds, finished 10th in tour earnings that season, and reached as high as 16th in the world rankings. He also boasts one of the best short games in the sport, evidenced by his top-10 standings in most putting and around-the-green stats.
Alas, Baddeley, who was born in the U.S. but raised in Australia, has struggled with other aspects of his game, particularly off the tee and his approach shots. He had fallen into golf's wilderness, failing to qualify for a major since the 2014 U.S. Open. At the start of the 2016 campaign, Baddeley was listed as the 417th ranked player in the world.
Which is what makes what happened at the Barbasol Championship all the more rewarding.
Baddeley fired a final-round 5-under 66, good enough to match Si Woo Kim's 18-under 266, to earn a spot in a playoff. After matching on the first three holes at the Grand National course of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Kim missed the green, chipping to five feet. Baddeley faced a 24-foot putt for the win, leading to this...
"I think you could tell by my reaction how much it meant to me," Baddeley said after the round.
The victory was Baddeley's first since the 2011 Northern Trust Open.
"It's been a long time between drinks," the 35-year-old remarked. "I had some real struggles."
Because it is an alternate event, Baddeley doesn't earn an automatic invite to the Masters, and FedEx Cup points are limited due to a limited field. Nevertheless, the win bestowed a two-year PGA Tour exemption and a trip to the PGA Championship.
A reward sweet enough to run around with your arms raised and cheer.