Baddeley quickly finds playoff-exit perspective
If FedEx Cup points were awarded for dignity and grace, Aaron Baddeley would still be in the playoffs. Fact is, he’d be in the thick of things.
Unfortunately, being polite, professional, and the consummate stand-up guy gets you a lot of pats on the back and much admiration, but no FedEx Cup points. Thus is Baddeley done for the 2013 PGA Tour season.
“Go home,” said the 32-year-old Aussie, when asked what his plans were in the aftermath of The Barclays. He had failed to finish in the top 100 to move on to the Deutsche Bank Championship.
You could say that he only has to wait seven weeks to start the 2014 season, but the truth is, Baddeley knows that he should still be playing the 2013 campaign. That’s where the hurt rests, in the knowledge that he let an opportunity slip away.
Now if you take the big picture, there’s no reason to think Baddeley should have made it two weeks into the FEC playoffs. After all, by his own admission, 2013 was “a horrible season,” what with 12 missed cuts in the first 20 starts, including 10 in a row. But being a PGA Tour veteran and a three-time winner, he clearly is capable; all he asked for was a chance.
The FedEx Cup playoffs provide that and sure enough, there was Baddeley seemingly on the cusp of something impressive. Shooting 69-72-66 at Liberty National, Baddeley had laid the foundation for an impressive move up the standings. From No. 119 of the 125 who made it to The Barclays, he was projected to roar inside the top 80.
Ah, but projections are not very useful if you don’t back them up. And midway through Sunday’s final round, Baddeley had lost ground. Out in 3-over 39, his projected number was closer to 90.
“I was good,” Baddeley said, confirming that he did keep looking at the projected number on the massive leaderboards. “After that, who knows? I didn’t feel that bad out there. I wasn’t stressed.”
He erased a bogey with a birdie and with three holes to play he was inside the top 100. He was still inside the top 100 after he bogeyed the short, par-4 16th. He was still inside the top 100 when he bogeyed the par-4 17th. But when he bogeyed the par-4 18th? He was out.
Bogey, bogey, bogey. Baddeley shook his head, but he did not run. He faced the questions. This was a day when he said his score didn’t represent how he had hit it. But Liberty National being a penal layout, “I got penalized to the maximum with any shot that was off line,” he said. “I had a chance (a 5-footer for par at 18), but I couldn’t do it.”
The weight of a rough campaign seemed to be settling in.
“It’s disappointing,” Baddeley said. “A horrendous finish. The last three holes were easy holes, with the wind. But it was no good. No good.”
But what was good – what was very, very good – is what happened next. Having graciously answered questions with a heavy heart, Baddeley turned to go out in the hallway and was greeted with gleeful cheers. “Daddy,” said daughter Jewell. “Daddy,” said daughter Jolee.
As for son Jeremiah, he sat quietly in the embrace of his mother, Richelle, who greeted her husband with a hug and a kiss.
Some things quickly put golf in perspective.