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June 15, 2007

Aaron Baddeley


RAND JERRIS: We are now joined by Aaron Baddeley, a round with an even par round of 70 today and 2-over for the championship. If you could start us off with some general comments about the playing conditions out there this morning.
AARON BADDELEY: The playing conditions were pretty good this morning. Still a bit breezy this morning. I felt like the wind was up sort of early. I felt the greens were at least half a foot to three quarters of a foot faster than yesterday. And the greens were firming up; every hole the greens were firmer. So it was just a day of being patient. Some holes you just couldn't get close to them or you just had to hit like a three-foot by three-foot landing area. It was a tough day, testing day.
RAND JERRIS: Scores certainly are a little bit higher today. What would you attribute that to.
AARON BADDELEY: I just think that the greens are getting firmer. Some of the pin locations were tougher today. I felt like yesterday some of the hole locations were a little more accessible. You were able to feed the ball in off the slopes and today there really were not holes like that that you could do.
RAND JERRIS: Could you walk us through the birdies and bogeys on your card.
AARON BADDELEY: I started on the back nine. 11, I hit just in the right rough and hit a pitching wedge to about five, six feet and made that one.
14, hit in the left fairway bunker and hit on the green to about 25 feet. Actually got a read off Steve Stricker. He had the exact same putt and when he were walking down 12, I sort of watched how his ball went in the hole and I hit it pretty much in the same spot and made it, sort of watched how his ball fed in there and made that for birdie.
18, I hit in the right rough and chipped it up, two bogeys. Standard bogey at Oakmont.
Hit it right off the tee on No. 1. Hit a great second shot on the green and 3-putted. So that was a little bit annoying to hit a great second shot there. But overall, I was quite pleased with level par.

Q. Lucas Glover said you putted beautifully today. Is that accurate, and is it more so than it has been yesterday and recently?
AARON BADDELEY: I felt like I putted nice today and yesterday. I felt like I putted nicely both days. I feel like sometimes the par putts are more important out here than some of the birdie putts just because you're going to have the putts and you've got to hole them just to keep some momentum going.
And today I did that well. I made a nice putt on the last from about six or seven feet for par.
I wouldn't say I've been putting any differently than what I have done in the past three months.

Q. How difficult is it to stay patient out there, given the conditions?
AARON BADDELEY: I'd say I'm comfortable with my game, so that makes it easier to stay patient.
But it's just hard, when you hit a good shot, and the ball doesn't finish up where you think it was going to. So you just know that it's a tough course and you're going to get some bad bounces and you're going to hit some bad shots that are not going to finish where you want them to. You just really have to think your way around the course.
I think Pete, my caddie, and I did a great job of thinking our way around the course today. We had quite a few uphill putts today, which is really key.

Q. Throw two at you. You've obviously been in a pretty steep ascent here the last couple of years, picking up the two wins and everything, sailing along. I guess the next for you is probably to be in contention at a major. Do you feel like you're ready for that? And part two, as solid as 70 was, can you comprehend a 66, from your fellow club member?
AARON BADDELEY: I would say, the first one, I feel that since I've really started working with Andy and Mike, I've really started to -- my ball-striking has improved. My driving accuracy has improved a lot, which makes it a lot easier to play the game.
So I think I've been going in that direction. So now I feel like I have the tools, I feel like I've got the game now to hit all of the shots that I need to hit to be able to play well to win on Tour and then contend in a major.
I feel that I'm doing the right steps, taking the right steps, going in the right direction, so I feel that if I keep doing that, then everything will be okay.
Yeah, 66, I mean, that's like shooting 8-, 9-, 10-under somewhere, you know, just for the fact that on this course, how precise you have to be. Like we were talking on No. 5, to get the ball like within ten, 15 feet, you had like a three-by-three-foot landing area to land it in. I mean, seriously, that's not exaggerating -- maybe it is exaggerating; two-foot-by-two-foot.
It was a heck of a round. Like I said, it's just a tough course. You have to putt well. You have to be in the right positions. Yeah, that's a pretty impressive -- I was actually kidding with his caddie that he loves second rounds in majors, because Augusta he shot 4-under the second day when I was playing with him, and today he shot 4-under as well. So that's pretty good.

Q. Two things, I think you said outside that you were not very happy with your driving; is that accurate?
AARON BADDELEY: Just on the front nine. I didn't drive it 100% on my front nine, which is the back nine.
Then I drove it beautifully on the back side, on my front nine.

Q. When you were at your lowest ever a few years ago, what's the best score you could have shot around here, and just how far have you come for tournaments like this where you have to keep it out of real trouble?
AARON BADDELEY: I mean, I didn't -- I think the best -- the best example is just, I didn't really sniff a cut in the U.S. Open between 2000 and 2004, where now I feel coming in here, I was playing well and I was playing nice; that I had the ability to play well enough to be in contention and that in itself is a huge step of how far I've come. Whereas before I liked being in contention, whereas now, I feel like I can be in contention.

Q. Early on when you came out here you had a rep that was similar to Faxon, just okay ball-striker and a really good putter. How much better -- I'm not going to look at stats because I don't always believe them, but how much better are you at keeping the ball and keeping it in play now than you were just two years ago?
AARON BADDELEY: I would say night and day to be honest, absolutely. I honestly feel that my driving is actually one of my strengths now, where it was never like that.
The thing that for me, most of that is every shot I hit, I know what happened. Andy and Mike are so great about teaching me about my swing and what I need to do and the couple of faults that creep in. When I do hit a shot like on the back nine today where I hit a couple of bad tee shots, I wasn't stressed because I knew what I needed to do. And on the front side, I don't think I missed a fairway.
So I think it worked out well in that sense.

Q. For a long time this championship was pretty much the domain of American golfers, and that has not been the case the last three years obviously. I wonder, is that because not only the growth of the game around the world, but the fact that more non-U.S. golfers are playing over here more than they have in the past and are more accustomed to the conditions?
AARON BADDELEY: I would say so for sure. I know that in Australia, we don't have anything, any sort of rough like this. So it's something where you have to learn how to play those shots, to hit shots out of the rough.
I would say the greens are similar to Australia in the sense of how firm they get and how fast they get. But as opposed to the rough, it's just something that needs to be learned, needs to be -- in Australia, you just blast away and if you hit in the fairway, great and if you hit it in the rough, it's no problem. But it's not like that at here at all.
I would say just the amount of people, the internationals over here, that play golf over here just in general and how the level of golf is worldwide, as opposed to just in America.

Q. Does it extend beyond the individual winning the tournament? What would it be to be the second Australian in a row and to keep in Australia?
AARON BADDELEY: That would be great to keep it in Australia and keep it at Whisper Rock, too. That would be pretty cool. I've got to worry about tomorrow to be in position for Sunday so, I'm more worried about hitting my first tee shot in the fairway tomorrow and just going from there.
But that would be pretty cool to be the second Australian in a row to win.

Q. Before The Masters, you were sort of a trendy, dark-horse picked. Were you alarmed at that and do you prefer coming in more under the radar?
AARON BADDELEY: Oh, I don't know. If you play well, people are going to say you have a chance to win. I was surprised to be honest but I'm not fussed if people want to say that. If they don't, great that's, too. But it is nice to be under the radar though.

Q. When they did that MacGregor commercial with you in the convertible and the girls and all, did that embarrass you at all in that that's so far from your identity in that you're the least playboy guy out here?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, looking back if I knew what I knew now, I would have -- I mean, looking back, I regret that commercial a bit because, like you said, it's not even close to representing who I am as a person.
So, yeah, I look back and I think, yeah, wish I didn't do that. But, you can't change the past, you know. So you just have to spend five minutes around me to know what my values are.
RAND JERRIS: Aaron, congratulations and wish you luck this weekend.

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