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February 20, 2011

Aaron Baddeley


CHRIS REIMER: Congratulations, and welcome to our 2011 Northern Trust Open champion Aaron Baddeley. 2-under today, I believe, and if you could just start with some opening comments about getting this victory. It's been a few years since you've won and what it's like to be here today.
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, no, it's definitely been a couple of long years, but it was worth every bit, and I really feel that the last couple years is actually what made it easier today just because of having to battle and having to grow into so much for a couple years, the character that was just built in me, I guess.
Like today after 12 I struggled on the 12th hole, made a silly double there, and just to be able to just let it go and get onto the next hole and forget about it and hit two nice shots there and make a birdie, that was key.

Q. Can you talk about what the emotions were like on the course when Freddie birdied the first three and obviously had the crowd on his side? How did you get through that and what did that feel like?
AARON BADDELEY: Well, I thought Freddie was going to be tough today because definitely winning is a skill, and Freddie has been winning quite often recently. When he got off to a good start, I was like, Freddie looks like he's going to have one of those days where he's going to play great.
I was still just trying to focus on my game and just try to do what I needed to do. I wasn't really trying to -- I was still right there, I was still only one back. It wasn't like I was three back. For me it was just trying to keep doing what I was doing.

Q. What did the crowd feel like? What was the sensation like?
AARON BADDELEY: Well, everybody was yelling out "Freddie, Freddie, Freddie." I knew he was going to be the fan favorite, and I mean, no reason why he shouldn't be. He's been such a great player over the years, and I mean, the fans just love him.

Q. One thing is winning, but what about winning here? What does that mean to you with the great storied tradition? And also, can you talk about the double bogey to the birdie and what a transition that was?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, winning here is special. I love, love coming here. I've been on TOUR since '03 and haven't missed a year here yet, and not planning on it. I just love coming here.
I still remember one of my first tournaments I remember is when Steve Elkington won here against Colin Montgomerie in a playoff, so there are a lot of memories of that when I first came here. So just coming here was special, to play here. And to win here is even -- it's amazing.
And then the double, that was really a poor -- just two poor shots that caused the double and a poor putt, and then to be honest I really just forgot about it. It was like, all right, hit a good shot here because it's a tough tee shot, No. 13, so I hit a nice tee ball there. I was surprised my 6-iron went a little past the pin and made probably the best putt of the week right there. That really got me back on track.

Q. When exactly was it you started going back to Lynch again, and are you surprised you got results this quickly?
AARON BADDELEY: I started with him back in, what was it, back in March. We're in '11, so it would have been in '09. I mean, I actually felt like I've made more progress than what the scores have actually shown to be honest. I felt like I could have played better earlier, just the scores weren't on the board. But each time we'd make progress we'd take a step or two back. After you'd make the progress, go out on the course, play a tournament, something would pop up and you'd have to fix that. So just step by step, we just sort of put the pieces together, built the foundation, and it was great, like the product today was just being able to hit the shots really that I needed to hit.
I didn't hit a great tee shot on 17 but it hit a tree, kicked way left, and then I hit like a 50-yard cut with a driver, went inside with a 3-wood, and just being able to forget everything and being able to hit that shot, that's part of the plan was just to be able to let it go and hit shots, so it was great.

Q. What is the biggest departure from what you were working on with Andy and Mike as far as stack & tilt? What's the biggest change that you've had to get used to?
AARON BADDELEY: I'd say the biggest change is sort of giving myself spine angle at address and then actually having the weight move a little bit to the right side and then allowing and trusting that the club will just drop on the inside and I'll be able to rip a draw out there. That was probably the biggest change, to be able to not feel like I have to go to the left, to actually feel like I could have spine angle, feel like I was away from the target, to be able to hit the draw. That was probably the biggest change.

Q. If you didn't know who Fred Couples was, if you didn't know he was a famous golfer, just playing golf beside him, would you have any idea he's 51 years old the way he hits the ball and carries himself?
AARON BADDELEY: No, he still hits it great. The flight on his ball is just fantastic. I enjoy playing with Freddie. He's really a great bloke. I really enjoy playing with him. No, you can really see how -- I think he'll keep playing great golf for quite a few years to come yet because like I said, the quality of his strike is impressive.

Q. How old are your little girls, and do they travel with you to events much?
AARON BADDELEY: Jewell is about -- she'd be about 26 months, and Jolee is coming up on nine months. Last year they didn't travel much because my wife was on bedrest, and then Jolee being so young, they just sort of stayed at home. This year they'll probably travel 85, 90 percent of the time.

Q. Is that hard or easy?
AARON BADDELEY: No, I love it. It gets a little difficult. Obviously you travel with so much stuff and then you go home -- like last night you get home, you've got to give the girls a bath, put them in bed. But I wouldn't want them at home. I definitely want them out here with me.

Q. What was your strategy on No. 10? You seemed to hit it in the place that everybody else wanted to but couldn't get there.
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, I hit driver there every day. That's pretty much where I try and hit it right there, like the front of the green to the left side is the best spot because you can use the slope. So I was just trying -- there's like three palm trees just over the bunker so I pretty much try and aim at that and try and work a little fade off it because then if it doesn't fade and it goes to the palm trees you've still got a good angle to the green.

Q. Time to head back to Augusta?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, I'm excited about that, very excited.

Q. Any particular expectations going there again? Are you pumped?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, definitely pumped. I feel like my game is a lot different now. These last few weeks is really working a lot on shot shaping, and around there you really need to shape your golf ball, hit fades and draws and highs and lows, so I'm excited to get back there. I really enjoy playing Augusta. I enjoy the golf course so much, so that's what -- I'm really looking forward to that.

Q. How do you keep the momentum going now from this in terms of the last couple times you've won you haven't been able to prolong that? Have you thought about that in terms of how you take that next step?
AARON BADDELEY: Again, I think I'm in a different situation I feel like now with my game. In '06 with Hilton Head, I was in the building stage with the stack & tilt, and then '07 I had a good year after winning FBR. But I feel like my game is at a different level where I'm not trying to keep working on stuff. Like right now I'm just sort of maintaining the foundation, and then I'm really just trying to go out there and play golf. Like I'm really enjoying the fact of I can still there and I'm going to hit a 10-yard fade, a 30-yard hook and just have fun on the golf course again.
That's what I'm really looking forward to these next upcoming -- I think that's how I'm going to just maintain. Again, you've got to keep your short game sharp, so that's the key.

Q. I wonder if there's any coincidence to you sticking around at Torrey Pines and being behind the 18th green when Bubba won and being there for that and what's happened to you the last few weeks, if you've gotten any inspiration from that or anything.
AARON BADDELEY: It's always great when you see your friends win. I was sad that I got to miss -- I missed Bubba's first win. We weren't going anywhere on Sunday. I was going to be on the back of that green for Bubba the whole time. In Vegas we were there for J-Byrd, as well it was pretty special that J-Byrd was here when we got done, as well, to give us a hug and congrats.
It's just awesome that we've got such great friends out here and people that really care for you. It's not just about trying to beat each other, it's just about really caring for one another. That's pretty special.

Q. Talking about the Masters, have you grasped how much this is going to change the rest of your year in terms of schedule? Doral, Bay Hill, Firestone, things that where you were in the World Ranking weren't on your radar screen at the start of the year?
AARON BADDELEY: Exactly. I had my schedule picked where I wasn't planning on playing those events. Instead of being like oh, maybe, maybe, I was like, I'm just going to do my schedule. Now it's changed so I'm going to have to sit back and readjust and just figure out where I need to play and when I need to rest, as well, because that's just as important.

Q. You mentioned earlier about last winning in '07. Were there any doubts in your mind that this might not happen again?
AARON BADDELEY: No, no, no. As tough as the last two years were, I knew what I was working towards. Like Dale and I, we had an end product that we knew what I was working towards, and I knew I was going to get there, whether it took another year -- that might have been frustrating, but at the same sense, I knew what I was working towards. Even though I got frustrated at times and discouraged at times, it was still -- I knew my end goal, so I was able to be patient. That was the key. I mean, being patient, I had to be patient because I knew my game has been there for a while, I just haven't got the scores on the board. I really feel like there was a lot of character that was being built over the last couple years.

Q. So when you're 51 do you think you'll be back here contending for the lead on the last day?
AARON BADDELEY: That's a long ways -- that's like 20-something years away. I hope so. I hope so. Hopefully I can still play as good as Freddie does at 51.
CHRIS REIMER: We received a pretty complimentary email from Captain Greg Norman, captain of the International Team. Just talk about Presidents Cup possibly being on your radar screen now and being one of your goals I'm sure entering the season.
AARON BADDELEY: That was one of my goals starting the season, even though where my World Ranking was. To play a Presidents Cup in Australia, that would be like an absolute dream. I remember watching in '98 going down there and seeing the guys, Freddie, seeing Jim Furyk, seeing all the guys down there, seeing Norman playing, all those guys. I wanted to play in Presidents Cups. So it's definitely something that I'm going to keep working hard towards to try and make that team.

Q. You talked so much about 13. What about 4, getting up-and-down there early in the round?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, 4 was -- I hit a poor tee shot there, and then hit a really good pitch, and that sort of kept the momentum because Freddie had obviously birdied the first three, so that was a huge up-and-down there to tie -- effectively halve the hole with Freddie and stay one back because one is a big difference than two. So yeah, that was a good point there.

Q. When did you reunite with Dale Lynch, and how much did you work with him as a kid? Can you go over your relationship?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, I worked -- we worked from when I was about -- would have been probably 13 I would say through until -- it would have been like September 2001, so I was 20. And then I left to see Lead, Andy and Mike, and got back with Dale March '09, and to be honest it felt like coming home. It sounds weird, but -- he had such an impact on my golfing career growing up and such -- he was very much like a mentor, like the way I thought, the way I practiced, the way I went about everything, he was such a huge influence. To be able to come home -- come back to Dale really felt like coming home because it felt like I was becoming a kid again, and that's what made it fun, you know.
I mean, we put a lot of work in. Dale has spent -- Dale and I have spent a lot of hours together, and at times it's been frustrating, but like I said, that end product -- we knew what we were working towards, and that was the key.

Q. He was your first teacher?
AARON BADDELEY: First teacher, yes, correct.
CHRIS REIMER: Do you mind just going through your birdies and lone double today?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, No. 1, hit a good tee shot just through the fairway and then hit 7-iron from 176 to about 20 feet, two-putt.
No. 7, 5-wood off the tee, hit it on the right fringe and made a nice putt down the hill there.
No. 10, hit a great tee ball just to the left of the green, night pitch shot to about five feet, made that.
12, hit it in the trees, got a good bounce, hit it in the trees again, went in that deep hay, hit it over the green, chipped up, lipped out, missed the three-footer, made the four-footer coming back.
And then 13, driver down the left side, 6-iron from I think it was 176 to the back fringe and then made that. It was about 25 feet, I guess.

Q. How much break in that putt? Any, or was it just all speed?
AARON BADDELEY: Seven or eight feet.

Q. So it was a little bender?

Q. You mentioned the one on 7. That was a three-shot swing on Freddie. That must have really given you some drive going forward?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, absolutely. He hit it in the stuff, and I saw where he laid it up in the bunker, and he left it short. I thought, if I can cozy this one down to the hole, that would be huge, and made it. So yeah, that was definitely a huge turnaround to go from even to I'll say, like 1- or 2-up, or 2- or 3-up, depending on what Vijay did. That was big.

Q. And how much easier does it make the last couple holes when you know you have a two-shot cushion?
AARON BADDELEY: Definitely helps having a two-shot cushion than a one because you can make a mistake because the par-5 I was expecting Vijay to make birdie, so I was really trying to make a birdie. And then when I saw he didn't, I was really trying to make a birdie on -- trying to get up-and-down with the pitch shot on 17 because then I knew I would either have a two- or three-shot lead playing the last no matter what, and we got -- both Freddie and I misread that putt down the hill there. But it definitely makes a big difference having that little bit of a cushion there, yeah.
CHRIS REIMER: Congratulations again, Aaron.

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