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January 29, 2008

Aaron Baddeley


DOUG MILNE: We'd like to welcome the defending champion of the FBR Open Aaron Baddeley to the media center. Thanks for spending a few minutes with us. Obviously a hectic week for you. A lot going on. Just a couple opening comments as you approach the 2008 FBR Open.
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, it's going to be a busy week. Last night I spoke at an outreach, and then also have another speaking engagement at Highlands Church this week and trying to play this week. No, it's going to be a great week. I always look forward to this week. This year is going to be special being defending champion, and I just love playing here in Phoenix because it feels like my hometown.
DOUG MILNE: You've gotten off to a good start in 2008, T12 at Mercedes and T8 last week. Last year you carded four top 20s in your next five starts. Is that something that's been in the back of your mind as you play in '08, building on that?
AARON BADDELEY: I would say I just felt like I was trying to build on last year. I felt like last year was a good year. My consistency was a lot better last year than it had been in my previous years, and I felt my game was going in the right direction that I've been wanting it to go in for a while. I was just trying to build on how I played last year and also how I played towards the end of last year, winning in Australia and coming back here, gave me great confidence about my game.

Q. Do you like American football?
AARON BADDELEY: I'm learning about it. I enjoy watching good quarterbacks because you can kind of see how they sort of control the field. Like I love watching Brady play because he seems like he's always calm, cool and collected and knows exactly what he's trying to do every time. I like watching Romo, so I'm learning about the game. I always like to sit with someone who knows about the game so I can ask them questions about what you can and can't do. I'm definitely starting to enjoy the game a lot more than I did.

Q. Favorite team yet?
AARON BADDELEY: Favorite quarterbacks. I would say Brady is probably my favorite just for how he plays on the field. Absolutely.

Q. Are you going to the Super Bowl?
AARON BADDELEY: No, I'm just going to watch it at home, I think, just have some friends over, have a bit of a barby and watch the Super Bowl.

Q. Last year you kind of won the tournament on the last four holes. Could you kind of talk about that stretch there, those last four holes, how they compare to some other kind of tough stretches on the PGA TOUR and kind of take us through what happened to you on those last four holes?
AARON BADDELEY: I'd say those last four holes are birdie holes, but also you can make a bogey or a double real quick, as well. You can get both -- I think like the previous year or two years ago when J.B. Holmes won, I know like the tournament pretty much decided on the 15th hole when Ryan made a high score and J.B. made a 3.
There's holes you can make a birdie but you can also make a high score. When I walked off 14 three back, I was just trying to think if I can make a few birdies and be one behind playing the 18th hole, then I still had a chance to tie or force a playoff.
I pretty much played those holes exactly how I wanted to. On 15 I two-putted for birdie, hit a nice shot into 16, a little bit long but made a nice putt, about 25 feet.
17, I pretty much got in the back left, and the night before Pete and I talked about hitting a 3-wood to leave it short of the green so I could have an easy pitch shot, because if you hit a driver you can hit it too far and have no shot to that pin. I hit it just short of the green on the right side a little bit, hit a nice chip shot to about ten feet and put the pressure on Jeff to make his par putt from about four feet. I played the last hole perfect. I hit a nice draw down the right side, hit a wedge on the green and two-putted. So I was very pleased at the way that I was able to execute every shot the way I wanted to.

Q. You were down by three with four to play, but you went birdie-birdie-birdie?
AARON BADDELEY: Birdie-birdie-birdie-par.

Q. And he went par-par-bogey?

Q. You had the lead going to 18?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, I was one ahead, so I had gone from trying to catch him to all of a sudden it was now my tournament to win.

Q. Have you had the opportunity to go out on the course this morning at all?
AARON BADDELEY: I have not. I had the Special Olympics and then I'm going to go out this afternoon and play with Bubba Watson.

Q. I was just trying to get to the fact that with all the rain we had on Sunday what you're expecting out there, how you think it's going to affect the weekend here.
AARON BADDELEY: I know the course was closed yesterday for a while, so it obviously is pretty wet out there. I think if the rough is anything like the chipping green was last week, it was like -- I was throwing a couple balls down to practice my chipping and I lost them (laughter). It's pretty thick out there.
I mean, this course plays long if it's wet.

Q. What are your thoughts on the field? Can you give us your opinion on the quality of the field and what you think is going to be the key to defending your title successfully?
AARON BADDELEY: I think this week -- even if the rough is up you've got to shoot a good score this week. The weather is usually perfect. I think the forecast is pretty good. I mean, you're going to have to shoot 20-under probably to win. It's just go out there, play hard and hit it straight and make some putts. That's the key. It's making putts, really, because everyone is going to hit fairways, everyone is going to hit some greens, but it's making those putts to -- those birdie putts, yeah.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the atmosphere on the 16th and what it's like to play with a rabid crowd and all the noise and all that stuff?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, it's unique. It's special to this tournament, it's special to this town. It's such a -- everyone knows about it. People around here who don't know anything about golf know about the 16th hole at Phoenix, you know? It's definitely -- like it's the shortest, easiest, most intimidating hole in the world because it's not a difficult hole, but when you've got 17,000 people ready to boo you if you hit a bad shot, it's a little bit intimidating. I mean, it's a fun hole because if you hit a good shot they cheer and roar. I remember last year in the third round we all hit good shots, 15 feet, 12 feet, 10 feet. I think Jeff hit his first putt, missed it, booed him. George McNeil missed his putt, they booed him. I missed my putt, they booed me. So we just hit good shots and they were cheering and now they're booing us. It's fun. I enjoy playing that hole.

Q. Is there any added pressure this year to defending champion, the year the Super Bowl is here and all the craziness?
AARON BADDELEY: No, I wouldn't say any added pressure because last year it was my tournament, I won the tournament, and this year it's just a brand new tournament. It isn't like I'm starting this tournament two shots ahead of everybody else because I won last year or anything like that. It's a level playing field. I'm starting again, so to me it's another tournament that I want to win.

Q. Nobody has ever repeated here in 21 years. What do you think it is? Is it the fact that the personality is so go-for-it that you don't have a repeat winner? It doesn't seem to be a course that's built guys -- Calc has won here three times, and Phil and Vijay and maybe somebody else have won twice, but no one has ever repeated. Do you think it's just the nature of the golf course?
AARON BADDELEY: Possibly, plus the fact that you've got to shoot 20-something under par. Like I said, you've got to putt well. Some weeks the putts don't drop in and some weeks they just do. Maybe that's a factor in it. It would be nice to be the first one to repeat in 21 years.

Q. When you shot 64-64, was that the best you've done on a weekend?
AARON BADDELEY: I think so, yeah.

Q. What went so right? Was there a bogey in there at all in those last 36 holes?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, I bogeyed No. 14 on the last day.

Q. That was it?
AARON BADDELEY: That was it, yeah. I mean, on Saturday I putted well. I made some putts. Like on Sunday I just played really well. I just drove it straight, hit my iron shots close and made some putts. I didn't feel like I did anything outstanding and special to shoot those scores, it was just solid play, hitting a lot of fairways, a lot of greens, and giving myself the opportunity to make birdies.

Q. Did you kind of feel the tournament swing to you on the 16th tee? You had just made birdie, Jeff had just missed his birdie, and it seemed like you were kind of ready to go right there.
AARON BADDELEY: I mean, I'd say 17 -- it was more 17 I felt a little more momentum on my side because I just made two birdies in a row, got one within, and I just made a nice putt. It wasn't like I just tapped it in for a birdie.
And then obviously 17 was a big swing hole there, too.
I'd say I felt really good about where I was at and how I was playing standing on 17 tee.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about your relationship with Jeff and as the year goes on do you guys recall those last two holes last Sunday?
AARON BADDELEY: No, we haven't spoken about the Phoenix Open. Jeff is a friend of mine. I don't think we've played together since. I always see him around, and we flew over here together from San Diego on the same flight and stuff like that, but we haven't spoken about what happened. It's sort of like mum's the word after you sort of play against someone, you just sort of go on and that's it.

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