Baddeley outlasts Quinney at FBR Open
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2007 FBR Open | Wrap | 05 Feb 2007
Aaron Baddeley today won his second USPGA Tour event when he birdied three of the last four holes at the FBR Open in Scottsdale, Arizona, to upstage a shell shocked Jeff Quinney who appeared to have the tournament in his safe keeping with just three holes to play.
After starting his round in second place and one shot behind Quinney, Baddeley appeared to have lost his chance when he pulled his approach from the right hand rough at the 14th hole after he had kept pace with Quinney to that point. The two shot swing on that hole, after Quinney had holed his birdie putt from five feet, had Quinney two ahead of John Rollins and three ahead of Baddeley and Bart Bryant.
Baddeley closed the margin at the next when he found the green with his three wood at the par five and two putted for birdie. Quinney had his chance at the same hole but was unable to get up and down from just off the green and the difference was just two.
Quinney led at 21 under as the final group headed to the par three 16th. In the group ahead at the 17th, Rollins was short and right of the reachable par four and left with a tricky pitch to set up an important birdie. He did not handle it well and was left with 20 feet for birdie which he then made. Now he was within one of Quinney with Baddeley one shot further back.
At the famed 16th hole, Baddeley was first to play and hit a pitching wedge some 20 feet behind the hole. Quinney’s tee shot finished 30 feet right of the hole. Quinney was first to putt and made his par and remained at 21 under. Baddeley faced with a curling left to right putt holed it to the delight of the boisterous crowd and he was then within one.
At the 17th strategy would become paramount. Baddeley took a three wood from the tee, no doubt guarding against the possibility of turning a driver over and into the water. He was short and right of the green, not the perfect angle but playable. Two minutes later the same could not be said for Quinney as his drive found the water left.
Quinney took a drop from the hazard and hit a fine third to four feet and, to all intents and purposes, appeared as if he may have dodged a bullet. Baddeley did the best he could with the angle he was faced with a finished 12 feet left of the flag. He was first to putt and when that went in, Quinney’s four footer grew in length. He pushed it and he was at 20 under and now it was he who trailed Baddeley by one.
Baddeley again with a three wood found the fairway from the tee at the last but the very right edge of it. Quinney was also right but his tee shot finished on the upslope, amongst the surrounds of the fairway bunker, and he faced an almost impossible shot to get it close and apply the pressure. A few minutes earlier John Rollins had hit a brilliant approach at the last from 130 yards which hit the flag and retreated to the front of the green. A touch of luck and he could well have been at 21 under and setting the target for Baddeley.
Quinney was the first to play his second and, perhaps protecting against the pull from the hanging lie, blocked it right into the bunker. Baddeley’s from shorter range was right on line but fell 20 feet short of the hole. When Quinney’s bunker shot finished 8 feet from the hole, all the Australian needed to do was two putt and the title was his. He ran his first putt to less than a foot and it was effectively all over. Unfortunatley for Quinney, however, it was not quite as he missed his par saving putt and fell back to 19 under and finished third in what was the most expensive thirty minutes he has no doubt spent.
After two less than impressive finishes on the to date PGA Tour in 2007, Baddeley had taken time off to work on his putting and given that he was number one in putting this week, suggests it was time well spent. He averaged 26 putts per round.
Baddeley’s game looks so good right now it is hard to imagine that he will fall into the same slump he did following his win in last year’s Verizon Heritage tournament. For the four months or so following the Harbour Town event he lost his way on the golf course but he appears better prepared now to handle what was his second victory on the PGA Tour.
Technically, Baddeley is looking very good, his swing looks very sound and he appears to have picked up extra length this season. His putting has clearly done a U-Turn.
For Quinney this will be a tough pill to swallow. In his rookie season on the USPGA Tour, Quinney had shown, in his previous two starts, that he was handling the graduation to the big stage well. It might be that he made a thinking mistake on the 17th hole by taking driver from the tee when he had a one shot lead.
In hindsight those judgements are easy to make and while the driver may or may not have been an error, it was a missed four foot putt that was his undoing at that point. Despite his demise today, he still looks the goods and the US Amateur Champion of 2000 finally appears comfortable in the game’s greatest arena after graduating via the Nationwide Tour in 2006.
The next best of the Australians was Peter Lonard who finished 14th after a much improved week and a last round of 69. Steve Elkington was 44th, Nathan Green and Rod Pampling 54th and Mark Hensby 73rd.
The PGA Tour now heads to Pebble Beach for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am.
Photo – Anthony Powter