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May 31, 2007

Aaron Baddeley


STEWART MOORE: We'd like to welcome Aaron Baddeley to the interview room here at the Memorial Tournament. Aaron, great opening round today, 66, eagle on 15. Just looking at your card, you hit 12 of 14 fairways, 14 of 18 greens. Obviously you're hitting the ball really well.
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, I drove the ball beautiful today. I mean, my misses of fairways didn't even total six inches. I was like right off the edge of the fairway. This golf course demands driving the ball in the fairway so you can get it close, and that's what I did today.

Q. Were you in Korea last week?
AARON BADDELEY: I was, yeah.

Q. They talked about the guys coming over here from England. What's it like coming here from --
AARON BADDELEY: I think it's harder from over that side just because you tend to be able to not get to sleep. The first night I didn't get to sleep until like 2:00 o'clock or something like that. But then I still made sure I got up early so I'd be tired that night. Then after that I was fine pretty much.

Q. So the first night here would have been when, Monday?
AARON BADDELEY: Monday night was here. I spent one night in Phoenix.

Q. That's the way you came back?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, LA, spent a night at home in Phoenix, then flew up here Monday morning.

Q. Since you drove it so great today, how well do you rate it in the scheme of things?
AARON BADDELEY: I mean, I would say -- I hit, like I said -- the shots I missed weren't far off. I mean, they were literally just off the fairway.
It was encouraging to hit it that straight and drive it that well. I felt like I had good command of my irons, too. I hit a lot of nice iron shots, very straight, where I wanted to hit them. I feel like everything I'm doing is just -- I feel like my game is constantly improving. Andy and Mike are doing a great job.

Q. To drive it that straight after where you were a few years ago, how much easier does it make the game?
AARON BADDELEY: I've been at both ends of the spectrum now. I've been like where you can't find the planet, and now it's like I feel like driving is nearly one of my strengths. It's definitely so much easier in the fairway. Your shoes are cleaner, you hit the ball closer to the hole. Pete always talks about the first round he caddied for me was at Hawaii a couple years ago, and I think I hit like two fairways for two days, and I was like, are you kidding?
But it's been great to make changes and see results and drive it nice.
STEWART MOORE: If you could talk to us a little bit about your eagle on 15.
AARON BADDELEY: Obviously there's a new tee on 15 and you've got to now hit a really nice tee ball to get it up on top. I hit a nice drive, had about 230 hole or something, hit 3-iron to about 15 feet and made it. So that was really nice because I played the par 5s really nice all day. It was nice to make a 3 there.

Q. Did you hit driver to get up on top of the hill?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, I ripped it, too.

Q. Talk about scoring conditions in general. Scores are a little lower here than usual. Why is that and why was it playing easy for you today?
AARON BADDELEY: I think just when the course plays firmer, the course plays shorter. So like 11, if you wanted to, you could hit your driver and get there in two today where normally because it's wet you just lay it up, wedge it up there and try and make birdie with a wedge. So it just plays a little bit shorter. I only hit driver maybe five times today or something like that. So it definitely plays a little bit easier there.
And then because the greens are so perfect, you can hit a shot to 20 feet and it's a really good birdie opportunity because of how good the greens are.

Q. Has it been tough in your evolution as a golfer to stay patient because you're one of the guys that's still pretty young, but it seems like you've been out here a long time already. Has it been tough for you to stay patient to get to this point where you want to be?
AARON BADDELEY: At times it was tough, but other times it was like, all right, this is what I need to do to get to where I need to get to. I wouldn't change anything I've done, anything that's happened over the past, just because I wouldn't be the person I am today with the golf game I have today if I didn't go through those difficult times.

Q. Was the early success good for you in retrospect?
AARON BADDELEY: I think so, absolutely, because it sort of threw me in the deep end I guess you could say, and I got used to playing -- I was able to come out here as an amateur and play some TOUR events, play some majors and get the experience, so when I did get my card and came out here, it wasn't like something brand new. I knew what I needed to do to get there.

Q. You said you went for it on 11?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, I hit driver, 5-wood onto the green.

Q. And what about 5 and 7?
AARON BADDELEY: Hit a 3-wood, 3-iron onto 5, and I hit driver, 5-wood just on the fringe on 7.

Q. And have you ever, in the previous times you've played here, either gone for it or reached all the par 5s in two?
AARON BADDELEY: That was probably the first time I've ever nearly hit all of them in two. One was literally this far off (indicating six inches). I was driving the ball beautiful, and with 11 being a little firmer, I can hit like a little runner out there. It ran out there nicely, where normally when it's wet you can't get there, so you just hit 3-wood or something short of the bunker, lay it up and go for it.

Q. They said it's like now on 15, is it 300 to the -- I don't know where they had the tee.

Q. Is it 300 to the top?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, I think it's 327 to run out, and then where you're landing it's into the slope, so you've got to hit a good tee ball to get one up on top. In the practice round I hit 3-wood, and then it catches into the slope and stops. It's a really good change. It looks like it's always been like that. It doesn't look like there's been a change there. I always say that a good change is like that because you get there, and you're like, was that always like that? It's good.

Q. Did you ever see Jack play in the Flesch in Australia?
AARON BADDELEY: No, I never saw him.

Q. What's your first memory of him on TV?
AARON BADDELEY: On TV? I guess -- I don't know what year this was. It could be my first or second memory. It was when he made like 10 at a British Open. He got stuck in a hell bunker at the old course. What year was that?

Q. That must have been '95.
AARON BADDELEY: Before that I can't remember much. That's a good first memory, isn't it?

Q. He'll be thrilled to hear that. Make sure you mention that to him (laughter).
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, the one that really stands out is the '98 Masters where the last day I think he was 4-under through 6 or 7, chipped in, put his hands up and dropped the club behind him and stuff like that.

Q. When did you first meet him?
AARON BADDELEY: 2000. I think the first time I met him would have been at The Masters. After I got an invitation to the Masters I spoke to Greg Norman, and I asked him for a practice round, and he said, yeah, is there anyone else you want to get? I said, "Jack would be great." So the three of us played a practice round. That was special, to meet him there, especially at Augusta where he's won six times. That was pretty cool.

Q. You've come a long way in the last two years. What do you need to do to maybe crack the Top 5 or 10 in the world.
AARON BADDELEY: I think just keep doing what I'm doing. I think I'm doing all the right things. I feel like I'm starting to hit the ball more consistently at a level where I can get to that level. I think I've just got to keep working on my short game and my putting. But I feel like -- I don't feel like I need to do anything different right now to get to that level. It's just a matter of being patient and keep playing golf and keep working at it, and I'll get there.
STEWART MOORE: Thanks so much for your time. Best of luck this week.

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