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February 5, 2009

Aaron Baddeley


JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Aaron Baddeley into the interview room after a 6-under par 66. Aaron, you and Davis really put on a show out there. If we can just get some comments on your day.
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, it was a good day. I got off to a good start, which is sort of nice on the North Course because you sort of feel like you should shoot a good score in order to get a couple birdies early. It's nice to sort of get them out of the way to sort of get some momentum on your side. Davis got off to a good start, as well, so we sort of fed off each other a little bit out there today.

Q. You entered the tournament fairly late. Was that by design? Did you have any doubts about whether you were going to be here or not coming into the week?
AARON BADDELEY: No, I didn't commit. My management group did that, so I think it was more just a late commitment. But I always plan on playing here. I love coming here and it's always a vacation here in San Diego, so we love it. I was always planning on being here.

Q. What's going on with your hair?
AARON BADDELEY: My wife likes it long, so that's the number one reason. I like it long, as well. It's just something different. I've had it short for a long time, so it's nice to have a little bit of hair there. I think this is the longest it's ever been.

Q. Do people still notice who you are? Do you get second looks or get misidentified?
AARON BADDELEY: On the off-season I even had a beard, so people were like double-looking. That's all right, I don't mind it.

Q. What were the conditions out there today? How tough was it? We always expect low scores on the North, but they were a heck of a lot tougher than they usually are.
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, I think obviously the greens are a little bit firmer than normal, which makes getting close to some pins tough. Like I think it was 13, the second shot there is straight downwind and the pin is cut just over the bunker. Normally it doesn't make any difference when they're soft, but now it's like bouncing on, which makes a difference. Little things like that make it tougher.
And the breeze, it's a different wind than last week at Phoenix, and here it's a lot thicker and it really affects the ball more. It's getting a little bit of adjustment to that.

Q. What was your assessment of how you played last year and what are you looking to do heading into this year?
AARON BADDELEY: Last year was, I'd say, a 4 at best. I felt like I was close to playing really well a lot of the times but just never sort of got over the hump. I had a lot of top 25s but just not enough getting in contention.
I had a good last few months of the year working on a couple things, and I'm really excited about this year. I feel like I'm very clear about the direction I want to go with my game, how to get there, which is important. If you're not clear on how to get to where you want to go, it makes it a lot tougher. So I have a very clear direction of how to get there.

Q. Any particular steppingstones?
AARON BADDELEY: There was a couple little swing things that I really needed to address that I've sort of gone around a little bit, sort of got -- whenever I played well I had it and then I would sort of taper off and lose it. So it was a matter of really grinding on those couple areas, doing those few things, which creates a consistent ball flight, and I really felt like the last couple months of last year I did that. So like I said, I'm very clear what to do, which is great.

Q. Are you and other players wondering about when Tiger is going to come back, and what do you expect from Tiger when he does finally come back?
AARON BADDELEY: It's the first time I've been asked that question, I think. I mean, I don't know when he's coming back. I expect Tiger is not going to come back until he feels like his game is ready to compete. He's not going to just come out here to give it a trial run. That's not who he is, and Tiger likes to win. He's going to come back when he feels like he's ready to compete so he can win.
I expect him to come back. I mean, Tiger is Tiger. He's got a very high level of expectations for himself on how he plays the game, so I'm sure he won't come back until he feels like he can do that.

Q. You talked about the importance of keeping Pete (Bender) on the bag. The timeline, this happened right after the Match Play last year, right?

Q. How hard was it not having him on the bag, and now in retrospect it's probably a lot easier for you on the golf course?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, it's definitely great having Pete back because I know he was really struggling there for a while. I mean, he was battling for his life. It's just great to have him back out here. It's one thing surviving the cancer, let alone getting back to where he loves to be, out here caddying and doing what he loves to do. I mean, he's a fighter.
He was always like pushing -- giving everything he could because he wanted to obviously stay alive but come back out here. I mean, he loves fishing so he wanted to keep caddying, keep fishing, you know.

Q. What do you suppose -- I guess the two big story lines of the spring are going to be, A, Tiger, if and when he comes back in whatever state of readiness; and Harrington rolling into the Masters trying to win three in a row. Presumably at some point you've played with him along the way. What do you think his best attributes are as a player, Harrington?
AARON BADDELEY: I think he's got a few. Obviously he's super-competitive. You see that competitive thing in his eyes when he's in the thick of it. And then I think he's a very underrated putter.

Q. He showed that at the PGA, didn't he?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, I really think he's underrated in that regard. I think those are probably two attributes that -- obviously I think he's a pretty good ball-striker, as well. But I think he's definitely an underrated putter.
JOHN BUSH: Seven birdies, just one bogey today. You birdied three of the par-3s. Anything in particular stand out in any of the birdies?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, well, I was trying to just -- I had an easy putt on No. 17, like 12 feet for four 2s, and I was disappointed I missed that one. I was thinking about it, too. I was like, okay, that might be the first time I've ever done that.
The other ones -- I'm happy with the birdies on the par-3s because two of the par-3s aren't easy, the one down the hill, and then the other one is like 4-iron into the wind today.

Q. What did you take from the meeting with Tim and Rick George, and I guess they were trying to tell you guys now more than ever you've got to go more than halfway to keep as many people happy and kind of keep the momentum going? Was that sort of the thrust of it?
AARON BADDELEY: I guess so. I mean, it's a tough time for everybody. You kind of expect a whole lot from certain companies and everything just because of the times. It's a matter of us stepping up as players and sort of -- I feel like we need to take ownership of the TOUR and be like, hey, this is our TOUR and we're going to take care of it because it's up to us. If we can get out there and help take care of the sponsors, help support the tournaments, help the fans, do everything we can as individuals, if we all do that individually, then together as a group we're going to come out stronger and going to, I think, come out very good.

Q. Is it a matter of maybe signing a few more autographs or kissing a few more babies and shaking a few more hands or a little more complicated than that?
AARON BADDELEY: Signing autographs and things like that, that's all part of it. I remember it would have been ten years ago Jack was down in Australia, and he would spend like 45 minutes signing autographs. There are things like that where for myself, I always think about -- I used to love to get an autograph when I was a kid, so you want to give it back. So things like that.
And then also just doing a little extra with the sponsors. When they ask you to go visit some sponsors, go do it. It's really not that big a deal. But to them it is a big deal that you come in and take the time. When you think about it, what's 10, 15 minutes of your time, really? To me it's not a sacrifice. That's part of the job, part of what we do. That comes with the territory. To me that's what we should do as a TOUR, as players, and I think that everybody wants to put the blame on someone else or put the responsibility on someone, but we need to take the responsibility ourselves as players.

Q. Do you see yourself adding another start anywhere along the line? I know the early message from him in the video that he sent you guys in the off-season was play maybe in a place you haven't played historically and try to give a little more firepower to the sponsors in as many places as possible. I guess probably guys all heard that message, as well?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, I think there's a couple spots where I'm playing where I don't normally play, but my schedule is pretty full. I don't have two weeks off until after THE PLAYERS Championship. I've got a full schedule. For me I'm adding a couple events that I didn't play last year.
JOHN BUSH: Aaron, thanks for coming by. Appreciate it.

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