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September 24, 2011

Aaron Baddeley


LAURA HILL: We'd like to welcome Aaron Baddeley into the interview room. It looks like either we'll have a share of the lead or be in the lead, and I know we talked outside about how much you're playing for, FedExCup, win the tournament, trying to impress Greg Norman. Talk about putting yourself in position this weekend.
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, definitely coming into the week, Presidents Cup was on the forefront of my mind. Talking to Greg on Monday, I knew I had to play well this week to impress him. So did a lot of work Tuesday and Wednesday, especially on my putting, and very pleased so far this week.

Q. What did Greg tell you? What picture did he paint for you, and how long did you guys talk?
AARON BADDELEY: We spoke for like three or four minutes. He told me he was just going to watch this week. He told me one other guy he was going to watch, and that was about it. He said just go out, play good, win the golf tournament. I said, all right.

Q. Did he tell you who the other guy was?

Q. Was the directness of Norman good to you in that case? Sounds like he was pretty blunt, and if so, how much you thought of him and your background with him? Did that scare you? Obviously it motivated you, but what kind of thoughts did you have?
AARON BADDELEY: I sort of figured it was going to be like that, but definitely for me it's a motivator. I want to play good. I want to be on that team, so I knew I had to play well this week. It's time to bear down, and like I said, I got some good work done on Tuesday and Wednesday, so I was ready for Thursday.

Q. You told us at the Northern Trust Open earlier this week that the Presidents Cup was one of your number one goals this year. Having won that event you must be a little frustrated you're on the outside looking in?
AARON BADDELEY: Well, I did start at like 280 in the world (laughter), so I had a fair way to go to get in the team. I definitely dealt after -- through THE PLAYERS Championship, I was pretty much in the same position World Ranking wise as I am now. Yeah, I mean, a little frustrated not being there, but I feel like I've been playing well, just haven't got the results, so it's nice this week to play well and get the results.

Q. Just on top of that anyway, in all fairness, Sendo hasn't had the year you've had, but is it sort of like what's doing?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, but it's also who's playing well at the time. Sendo played great last week, played well the week before. Definitely Greg is looking out for form players. So far I think I've had a nice year, but it would be nice to cap it off this week, and hopefully that'll be enough for the pick.

Q. It's surprising for some of us when you say you haven't putted well all year since we think of that being the best of the 14 clubs for you. What did you and Dale work on this week that obviously led to you making a country mile of putts today?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, we work a lot on just trying to get the club balanced in my hands and stuff like that. I've been all around it but haven't hit the nail on the head. We worked a little bit on the right-hand grip this week, so that's why I'm taking my right hand -- when I take a practice stroke, I just take it with my right hand. So it's just getting the club in the right position with my right hand, and that allows me to be able to release it, release the putter head.

Q. You've got basically the same putting routine that you've had for at least ten years --
AARON BADDELEY: 16, about 16.

Q. Is there ever a temptation to kind of get away from that --
AARON BADDELEY: No. I can't putt any other way. To stand over it and look twice at the hole, I feel like I would be there for an eternity. 16, and I'm 30, so 14 years. That's like trying to put your hands on with your other leg. (Laughter.) It feels weird.

Q. How do you play 18 this week? And what do you think of it as a finishing hole, tomorrow especially?
AARON BADDELEY: I played it par, bogey, par. I think it's a good finishing hole. It's not usual that we finish with a par-3. The links where we're going to play the Australian Open this year finishes on a par-3, so it's a fair hole, I think. It's pretty long from the back tee, but I think it's still a fair hole. It's not like you can't hold the green or the green slopes away from you. The greens sits at you, so you're able to hit a good shot in there.

Q. When you were 280th in the world, how messed up were you?
AARON BADDELEY: I was -- the last couple years with Dale, I was very -- we had a plan in place. It was a step by step process. People around me, part of the team, I'd say were a little more concerned. I was never concerned. I knew the direction I was heading. I knew what I was working on was right. It was just a step by step process to get to where I needed to. And this year, it sort of has been a huge step in the direction I feel like I'm going. Yeah, I mean, there was times where I felt like I was a little frustrated because I wasn't seeing the results, but I knew the direction I was heading and we had a plan in place, so it wasn't like I was searching, it was just putting it block by block, building to what I needed to have to be a top professional golfer.

Q. You shared this the other day. Could you go back and tell us the story again about the first time you saw Norman when you were a kid and he walked by you, and then the story about where you were when you met him for the first time out on the golf course, how your heart almost jumped into your throat?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah. The first time I ever saw Greg was at the '95 Aussie Open at Kingston Heath. He was walking onto the 14th tee, par-5. He was playing with John Daly. I was standing on the entrance to where they walk onto the tee. He didn't look at me, but he just looked past me, and I remember seeing --

Q. Through you?
AARON BADDELEY: It wasn't through me, but it was like to the side of me. I remember seeing the look in his eyes, it was like, wow, this guy is like, wow.

Q. Did he win?
AARON BADDELEY: He did, yeah. He made about a 25-footer on 17 to have like a two-shot lead playing the last.
And then '98 at Royal Adelaide, at the Australian Open, I wrote to him and asked him for a practice round early that year, and he said yes. So the pro-am was on a Tuesday, so I was practicing on Tuesday, and so I went up to him on the practice fairway when he was warming up for his pro-am and just said, hey, Greg, I'm Aaron, and we're playing tomorrow.
I mean, I was still nervous an hour after I met him. I was still like -- I was like -- I was trying to hit balls, and I was still taking deep breaths an hour afterwards.

Q. And you were how old at that point?

Q. So you were probably thinking about what exactly you're going to say to him when you walk up to him?
AARON BADDELEY: Absolutely. He was hitting balls, and Daryl, who's always been like his security man down there, he's a big boy, 6'6", thick, big fellow, and I'm standing behind him, and he's like, "Can I help you, sir?" I'm like, um, um, um, dangit, "I just want to meet Greg. I am playing with him tomorrow." But yeah, it was pretty nerve wracking.

Q. A year later you won the Aussie Open?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, and what a great day. The next day we played a practice round, and from what I was told Greg actually wasn't feeling 100 percent, but he said that he was going to play a practice round with me, so he came out and we played a practice round. Supposedly he wouldn't have played if he wasn't playing with me. I think that's just a testament to Greg and who he is.

Q. If you answered this already, just tell me. How often have you played Royal Melbourne?
AARON BADDELEY: I've played it a little bit. I haven't played it like a huge amount, but I played like the Heineken tournament there. Down in Melbourne, we've got Pennant, so I played in that, and just going out and playing with some friends. I wouldn't say I've played it a massive amount, but I definitely know it.

Q. Given your Presidents Cup goals, will you be paying much attention to the FedExCup projections tomorrow?
AARON BADDELEY: I mean, I'm just going to try and win the golf tournament tomorrow. Like I said, so much has got to go right for me to win the FedExCup. So for me I just want to try and win the TOUR Championship, which is a great event, very prestigious event, and then try and impress Greg in the process.
LAURA HILL: Badds, thank you. Good luck tomorrow.

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