14 Sep 2023 | Professional golf |

Aussies on Tour: Baddeley hits rare milestone

by Tony Webeck

Aaron Baddeley lines up a putt
Aaron Baddeley makes his 500th career PGA TOUR start at this week's Fortinet Championship. Photo: David Berding/Getty Images

He will join rare company when he tees it up in an all-Aussie pairing in Round 1 of the Fortinet Championship on Friday morning, but Aaron Baddeley is determined to look ahead.

Paired with Greg Chalmers and Geoff Ogilvy, the 42-year-old this week becomes just the sixth Australian to log 500 starts on the PGA TOUR, a list that Baddeley assumed would be longer.

With 565 appearances, Steve Elkington leads the way for Aussies in the USA, followed by Stuart Appleby (551), Jim Ferrier (528), Robert Allenby (525) and Bruce Crampton (513), Baddeley chalking up No.500 at Silverado Resort 23 years, six months and one week since his first at the 2000 Honda Classic.

It’s an extraordinary accomplishment that secures his place in PGA TOUR history, but a four-time winner who admits he has under-achieved on the golf course wants more.

Much more.

“I feel like a lot of my best years are ahead of me,” said Baddeley, who has been working with American instructor Mike Adams for the past two years.

“I feel like where my game is at, the simplicity of it is only going to get better.

“I’ve definitely got goals that I can still achieve – and this is not like a ‘wishy’ thing; I feel like it’s right there, ready to go.”

When Baddeley joined the PGA TOUR as a 21-year-old rookie ahead of the 2003 season, he was ready to go.

Already a two-time winner of the Australian Open, Baddeley had played 21 PGA TOUR events before obtaining his card via the secondary Korn Ferry Tour in 2002.

In his first start as a full member at the 2003 Sony Open, Baddeley lost in a playoff to reigning Open champion, Ernie Els, who made a 55-foot birdie putt at the second extra hole to deny the young Aussie.

“I felt like I knew a lot of the TOUR already because I’d been playing PGA TOUR events for three years so it didn’t feel like my first event, if that makes sense,” he recalled.

“When I got to Hawaii I was confident and ready to go play.

“I fully expected to beat Ernie on that last day, especially when he hit it left off the tee on 10. I was like, Oh, I’ve got a real chance here.

“And then he made that 50-footer… I still remember that.”

It would be three years before Baddeley became a PGA TOUR winner for the first time at the Verizon Heritage at Hilton Head, his most recent victory coming at the Barbasol Championship in July 2016.

For one who won his national Open as an 18-year-old amateur and turned professional to great fanfare, it is a somewhat underwhelming record until you consider life in its totality.

He and wife Richelle celebrated their 18th wedding anniversary this year and have six children, some of whom are stoking dad’s enthusiasm for the game with their own growing interest.

“I feel like I’ve under-achieved, definitely, with what I expected and the goals that I had set,” said Baddeley, who becomes just the 151st player in history to play 500 PGA TOUR events.

“Life-wise, I feel like I’ve exceeded all my expectations. My family, my kids, my wife – I couldn’t be more at peace and joyful off the golf course.

“Even now at 42, it’s never difficult for me to go out and practise and to grind and to try and get better.

“My boys love the game as well so I spend a lot of my time practising and playing with them at home.

“There are definitely some days where I think I’ll take the day off and then they’re like, ‘Dad, can we play nine holes?’ And I’m like, ‘Sure, let’s go.’

“It’s a lot of fun to be able to play and practise with them. It makes it easy to keep the fires stoked and wanting to get better.”

Baddeley is not the only Australian to chalk up a milestone this week.

After celebrating his 50th birthday last month Queenslander Scott Hend will make his debut in the senior ranks at the WINSTONgolf Senior Open on the Legends Tour, a tournament won last year by fellow Aussie Richard Green.

Green is in South Dakota for the Champions Tour’s Sanford International while Adam Scott, Min Woo Lee and Jason Scrivener are in London for the DP World Tour’s showpiece event, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Round 1 tee times AEST

PGA TOUR Fortinet Championship Silverado Resort (North Cse), Napa, California 12.06am* Ricky Barnes, Kevin Yu, Harrison Endycott 12.50am Lucas Herbert, Martin Laird, Andrew Landry 5.27am Aaron Baddeley, Greg Chalmers, Geoff Ogilvy 5.49am Nick Hardy, Mackenzie Hughes, Cam Davis 6.33am Cameron Percy, Robby Shelton, Vince Whaley

Defending champion: Max Homa Past Aussie winners: Nil TV times: Live 12am-11am Friday on Fox Sports 505; Live 7am-11am Friday on Fox Sports 503; Live 1.15am-8am Saturday on Fox Sports 505; Live 8am-11am Saturday, Sunday, Monday on Fox Sports 503.

DP World Tour BMW PGA Championship Wentworth Club, Virginia Water, Surrey, England 5.50pm Adam Scott, Tom Kim, Billy Horschel 6.40pm Daniel Hillier (NZ), Oliver Wilson, Grant Forrest 7pm Marc Warren, Victor Dubuisson, Jason Scrivener 10pm Ryan Fox (NZ), Min Woo Lee, Pablo Larrazabal

Defending champion: Shane Lowry Past Aussie winners: Rodger Davis (1986), Mike Harwood (1990) TV times: Live 5.30pm-3am Thursday, Friday; Live 5pm-3am Saturday; Live 5pm-2.30am Sunday on Fox Sports 503.

Japan Golf Tour ANA Open Sapporo Golf Club (Wanatsu Cse), Hokkaido 8.15am* Yoshiri Ishizuka, Tomofumi Ouchi, Dylan Perry 12.40pm Yasumasa Nagano, Mikumu Horikawa, Brendan Jones 1.20pm Taichi Kimura, Akio Sadakata, Adam Bland 1.30pm Atomu Shigenaga, Jigan Serizawa, Andrew Evans

Defending champion: Tomoharu Otsuki Past Aussie winners: Graham Marsh (1979), Kurt Barnes (2011), Brendan Jones (2016)

Ladies European Tour VP Bank Swiss Ladies Open Golfpark Holzhäusern, Switzerland 5.17pm* Momoka Kobori (NZ), Amandeep Drall, Linda Osala 8.25pm* Louise Duncan, Kirsten Rudgeley, Marianne Skarpnord 9.09pm Hanee Song (NZ), Charlotte Liautier, Natalie Armbruester

Defending champion: Liz Young Past Aussie winners: Nil TV times: 1pm-3pm Saturday on Fox Sports 503; Live 11pm-2am Saturday on Fox Sports 505; 11am-1pm Monday.

Korn Ferry Tour Simmons Bank Open for the Snedeker Foundation The Grove, College Grove, Tennessee 10.06pm* Brett Drewitt, Wilson Furr, Cody Blick 10.27pm* Jeremy Paul, Joe Highsmith, Dimi Papadatos 10.38pm Grayson Murray, Curtis Luck, Quade Cummins 3.11am* Rhein Gibson, Kris Ventura, Xinjun Zhang

Defending champion: Brent Grant Past Aussie winners: Cam Davis (2018) TV times: Live 3am-7am Friday on Fox Sports 503; Live 3.30am-6am Saturday, Sunday, Monday on Fox Sports 503.

Challenge Tour Open de Portugal at Royal Óbidos Royal Óbidos Spa & Golf Resort, Vau Óbidos, Portugal 5.50pm* James Allan, Habebul Islam, Blake Windred

Defending champion: Pierre Pineau Past Aussie winners: Dimi Papadatos (2018)

Epson Tour Guardian Championship Capitol Hill Golf Club, Prattville, Alabama 10.55pm Min A Yoon, Amelia Garvey (NZ), Pinyada Kuvanun 3.13am* Robyn Choi, Gigi Stoll, Savannah Vilaubi 3.24am* Clariss Guce, Cassie Porter, Yue Ren 3.35am* Hira Naveed, Kaitlyn Papp Budde, Alena Sharp

Defending champion: Maria Torres Past Aussie winners: Nil

LET Access Series Hauts De France Pas De Calais Golf Open Golf Saint Omer, France 5.15pm Erika De Martini, Sara Berselli, Munchin Keh (NZ) 4.30pm* Tina Mazarino, Thalia Martin, Kristalle Blum 5.10pm* Wenyung Keh (NZ), Luisa Gudert, Martina Flori 5.30pm* Tia Teiniketo, Teresa Diez Moliner, Amy Walsh

Defending champion: Momoka Kobori Past Aussie winners: Nil

Champions Tour Sanford International Minnehaha Country Club, Sioux Falls, South Dakota 1.54am Rod Pampling, Kirk Triplett, Scott McCarron 2.05am Paul Goydos, Stuart Appleby, David Duval 3.08am* David Branshaw, Dan Forsman, John Senden 3.39am* Richard Green, David McKenzie, Hank Kim

Defending champion: Steve Stricker Past Aussie winners: Nil TV times: Live 6am-8am Saturday, Sunday, Monday on Fox Sports 503.

Legends Tour WINSTONgolf Senior Open WINSTONgolf, Vorbeck 5pm Simon Khan, Peter Fowler 5.21pm Patrik Sjoland, Scott Hend 5.21pm* Elisabeth Esterl, Jason Norris 7.27pm* Michael Long (NZ), Joakim Haeggman

Defending champion: Richard Green Past Aussie winners: Terry Price (2012), Richard Green (2022)

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