March 12, 2003
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLORIDA
JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Aaron Baddeley into the interview room.
Aaron, thank you for coming by and spending a few minutes with us. If we could just get you to comment, you've obviously had a successful start to your season. You are Top-25 on the Money List, and you had a great start out in Hawaii with a second place finish in a playoff at the Sony Open. If you could just comment on your season so far.
AARON BADDELEY: It's been great. I've got off to a great start. The Sony was awesome. To come out at the first event as an official member, and still being young, and to come out and compete with the hottest player in the world was awesome. I had a great time.
Then, I guess, it's just been trying to work on my game and improve, and I'm getting there. Even though I haven't been right up there, I feel like I'm getting better and better.
JOHN BUSH: Could you comment on your preparations for this week and tell us what you think about the course here at Mirasol.
AARON BADDELEY: Well, the Honda Classic is pretty cool for me because the Honda Classic was the first time I played in a U.S. tour you vent, so the Honda Classic is one that I always remember because it being my first Tour event.
This week, the course is in great condition. It's not overly long, but it's perfect. The fairways are perfect. The greens are perfect. They are quite grainy but very good. I think you'll see some good scores out there this week depending on the wind.
Q. How many drivers are you hitting?
AARON BADDELEY: Anywhere from three to five, depending on the wind.
Q. How much would you like to hit your driver?
AARON BADDELEY: I mean, I'll play the course as it's to be played. I'm not going to hit driver just for the sake of hitting driver. If it's a 3-wood, I'll hit 3-iron; and if it's a 2-iron, I'll hit 2-iron. Around here because it's not overly long, it's best to be in the fairway to control your second shot.
Q. Does it favor a certain kind of player?
AARON BADDELEY: I don't think so, no.
Q. Do you see any irony in the fact that with you and Adam and Justin Rose, are there a lot of young guns out here like to hit it far and this is a course where you can't pull the driver but three to five times.
AARON BADDELEY: I guess it's a bit different from what we are used to playing. San Diego is quite long and you hit your driver on most tee balls. It's a little bit different, but it's good. I think if you look at Riviera, you hit your driver a few times around there, but it wasn't overly long, scores were not overly low. Everyone had a chance to win. Mike Weir won and was in a playoff with Charles Howell. Charlie hits it probably 30 by Mike, so it brings in both sets of players.
I think it would be great if people could continue to build course like Riviera or the old-style courses.
Q. Can you speak about your journey, you started off your pro career really hot, and then you kind of had to earn your way back, just what it was like and the lessons you've learned?
AARON BADDELEY: I started out really well. I won the Australian Open the second time playing as a pro and I played the next six months quite well. I won the Greg Norman and then I started to struggle. I struggled with my swing. I was just struggling with everything a lot.
About halfway through the year, I guess, I went and saw David Leadbetter and I really liked what he had to say. He made sense of what he was trying to work on and where he wanted to take my golf swing, and he was great. He was really good. I mean, we spent a lot of time together and we worked on a lot of good things, and the changes that I've made are going to take me to the next level, and I believe that.
I think one of the things that I learned is that you've got to continue to work hard and you've got to be patient because a 74 is better than a 75; that one shot can make all the difference in the end.
A good example is like Curtis Strange at the Masters. He shoots 80 the first day and then he had a chance to win. I mean, 80 was better than 81, so every shot counts.
Q. Do you relate at all to Justin Rose in that he went through a struggle and maybe from the outside, we think it's too easy; that you guys should be successful right away?
AARON BADDELEY: I think it's tough. Justin turned pro when he was younger than I was, but -- I mean, I was young, I was 19. We were all young when we turned pro. It's just a learning experience. We're still maturing and trying to find what suits our game and what suits us at a golf tournament, how much to practice, how much to work out, whatnot it do, things like that.
The hardest thing is not standing out there and hitting balls just because there's balls there and great practice facilities. Today, I was very disciplined, I said, okay, get there by 10:00 to make sure I'm done by 1:00, to make sure I've got three hours, no more; if I practice less, that's fine. It's just learning to be disciplined in what you do and what works for you.
Q. Did you find yourself before you got into this discipline working too much and then you were fatigued when you were on the course?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, I found that I was practicing too much at a tournament.
So, one, I couldn't play too many events in a row. I would only play like two or three in a row, whereas now I could play like five in a row because my practice is down to a minimum.
If I'm hitting it good, I'll leave, I'll walk away. Like my practice session took me half an hour, hit balls for 20 minutes, feels good. Hit some putts, feels good, after five minutes I walk away. No reason to hang around. It feels good.
Q. You look bigger than when we first saw you. How much do you work out and how much have you gained in weight or muscle?
AARON BADDELEY: I train -- I lift probably three to five times a week depending on schedule.
I don't know how much I've put on size-wise. I wouldn't say a lot. I've trimmed up, not just put on more muscle. I might have put on five pounds of muscle or something. I'm a lot stronger and I really have my workouts down to where I like what I do and it doesn't affect my golf game.
Q. This will be the first event you and Adam are in together this year; right?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah.
Q. Back home, do you expect that a lot is made that have, and can you speak about your rivalry and how it has evolved?
AARON BADDELEY: Well, I guess as juniors we played together. We played in Australia together. We played junior tournaments because we were probably the best two juniors in Australia. He was probably No. 1 and I was No. 2.
I mean, as a pro, we've never been head-to-head. We've never had -- I don't think we've ever both been in the hunt to win a goof tournament in the same event. So, it's sort of difficult to call it a rivalry. I think he's a year older than I am and we're both young and from Australia, so people are going to draw those conclusions that we are rivals.
We're friends. I was just having lunch with him just now, just before the press conference. Adam is a great player and he's been playing well.
Q. Back in Australia, haven't you been set up as almost enemies, and could you speak to that; is that blown out of proportion?
AARON BADDELEY: That's blown out of proportion. I remember at Hilton Head a couple of years ago, we went out and had dinner, just him and I, and all we talked about the whole night was our experience with juniors, stuff we did when we were away. I mean, we laughed so much. It was so cool because we were just talking about all of the stories we had when we were in Scotland or talking about when this was going on and someone did this and someone did that. I mean, it was -- we're friends. There's no way we're close enemies.
Q. Any particular headlines from the Australian papers come to mind that illustrate how much it may have been blown out of proportion?
AARON BADDELEY: No, I don't know a thing off the top of my head, no.
Q. You were in contention early at Riviera. When it's working well for you, what part of your game has been what has determined whether you are in the hunt or not in the hunt?
AARON BADDELEY: If I can drive the ball in the fairway, that's something that I'm continually trying to work on and improve. If I can get the ball in the fairway, I'm a pretty good iron player and I putt well. So, if I can get the ball in the fairway, I give myself the best chance of having birdie opportunities, and having birdie opportunities to hole a few putts.
Q. Do you still make your U.S. base in the Phoenix area, Scottsdale?
AARON BADDELEY: Scottsdale, yeah.
Q. How many Australians are in that area?
AARON BADDELEY: I think there's about eight, including one New Zealander.
Q. Do you find yourselves using the same facilities to practice?
AARON BADDELEY: Geoff Ogilvy and I are at Whisper Rock and a couple of the other guys use TPC. I've been at Whisper Rock -- it's a members course up north. I've been a member there for about one year now, just go in. It's an awesome golf course.
Q. Is that the Mickelson one?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, it's awesome. Best atmosphere ever at a golf club. When I was playing the Sony, they said there was like 50 or 60 guys in the sky bar watching the last round till about 8:30 at night, so that's pretty cool. You usually don't get that a whole lot at the mini golf clubs.
Q. What did you take the most out of being in that playoff at Sony, was it just the confidence that you can hang with the hottest player in the world?
AARON BADDELEY: One was that. I knew if I played well I could compete against anyone.
And two was that -- I guess the other one was that I didn't drive it very well that day and I just hung in there, I just kept hanging in there, I was patient. I just stuck to my game plan so that's what I was very happy with as well.
JOHN BUSH: Aaron, we appreciate you coming back. Good luck this week.
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