15 Feb 2016
Aaron Baddeley at the recent Sanderson Farms Championship.
A new relaxed approach to golf has produced a dramatic turnaround in form for Victorian Aaron Baddeley along with results which indicate his competitive nature is back in play.
Baddeley has forsaken his old ways of chopping and changing swing techniques and coaches and instead relied on simply having fun on the course.
Already he has made almost as much money on the US PGA Tour this year after a handful of events, than he made all last season.
Baddeley was facing the ignominy of a return to the web.com secondary tour after finishing a lowly 157 on the Tour money list in 2015. He had amassed just $US440,000, highlighted by just one top 10 but undercut by a dozen missed cuts.
This year, the former dual Australian Open champion has made the most of his starts in a bid to retain full status on the Tour, where he has been a fixture since 2003 and is a three-times winner.
In just seven events Baddeley has pocketed $US380,000 and claimed two top-10 finishes - at the Sandersons Farms Classic and the Farmers Insurance Open last months at Torrey Pines where he was eighth.
Baddeley says he is trying to keep his attitude to the game simple and not get caught up in confusing complexities as he tries to earn back his full-time ticket.
The 34-year-old explained that his renewed enjoyment and success was the result of a turnaround in his thinking.
"Golf is fun again," Baddeley told AAP. "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.
His improved driving is one aspect that has encouraged him to avoid analysis.
"It's becoming normal now to just stand up there and hit quality shots," he said.
"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."
Baddeley is teeing up in the US only on the basis of his status as a past champion after his dismal 2014-15 season.
But already he has improved his standing dramatically and is closing in on a top 80 spot. If he can remain in the top 125 on the FedEx Cup points list he will be able to compete in the end of year Play-Off events and make an unconditional return to full playing rights next year.
He snuck into this past week's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and finished 50th, picking up another respectable paycheque.
Rookie Cameron Smith finished in a share of 11th alongside compatriots Jason Day and Matt Jones while Victorian Tour debutant Ryan Ruffels opened with a 67 but finished with a 78 to finish tied for 60th.
Baddeley will shortly be back at the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles, which he won in 2011 and again has high expectations.
"My game is coming along nicely, the confidence is certainly building every week and hopefully the rest of it will take care of itself," he said.
"It's always great to play at places you have won before. It's another confidence builder."