Coming into the TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola, all 30 players in the field had a mathematical chance to win the FedExCup. After three rounds at East Lake, that scenario is playing out with Hunter Mahan, who came into the week 21st in the standings, projected to win the FedExCup.
Mahan’s reaction when informed by NBC’s Jimmy Roberts that he had a chance to win the $10 million prize? “Shocked,” said Mahan, who shares the tournament lead with Aaron Baddeley at 9 under, two shots clear of Jason Day and K.J. Choi.
No matter what happens on Sunday, Mahan and Baddeley were spectacular on a moving day with plenty of moving parts on the leaderboard and in the race for the FedExCup. Baddeley shot 64, while Mahan carded a 66.
Meanwhile, Webb Simpson, who entered the week atop the FedExCup standings, is now projected to finish second after recording his second straight 70 to sit in a tie for 15th. However Simpson is just 25 points behind Mahan in the projected standings, so a lot could change on Sunday.
ATLANTA – Aaron Baddeley has posted the round of the day, a 6-under 64 that gave him the clubhouse lead at 9 under late in Saturday’s third round.
Baddeley was at 10 under after a string of four consecutive birdies on his back nine. But he bogeyed the 17th hole and made a nice up-and-down on the 18th to save par.
When he finished his round, Baddeley projected to second on the FedExCup leaderboard behind Webb Simpson, who is eight shots behind on the tournament leaderboard.
Baddeley made four birdie putts of 21 feet or longer on Saturday. He also saved par on the fifth hole with a putt from just outside 10 feet.
AARON BADDELEY’S BIRDIE PUTTS IN ROUND 3
|Hole||Length of birdie putt made|
|2nd (par 3)||23 feet, 10 inches|
|7th (par 4)||35 feet, 10 inches|
|9th (par 5)||1 feet, 2 inches|
|13th (par 4)||5 feet, 11 inches|
|14th (par 4)||22 feet, 9 inches|
|15th (par 5)||21 feet, 7 inches|
|16th (par 4)||6 feet, 9 inches|
ATLANTA – Twice within the span of 10 minutes on Saturday afternoon, a chorus of cheers echoed through the trees at East Lake as Aaron Baddeley and Dustin Johnson made eagles.
Baddeley’s came first when he holed a shot from 131 yards at the par-4 fourth hole. It moved the Presidents Cup hopeful to 2 under for the day and into the logjam at 5 under, just three strokes off the lead.
Dustin Johnson followed with another at the par-5 ninth where he holed a bunker shot for the 3. That briefly took him to 3 under for the day but he bogeyed the 10th hole, missing a 4-footer for par, so he’s tied for 22nd at 1 over.
There eagles were the third and fourth of the week.
ATLANTA -- If Aaron Baddeley posts a low number today at East Lake, don't be surprised.
The Australian leads the PGA TOUR this season in second-round scoring average. In 21 second rounds this year, Baddeley's scoring average is 68.90.
The other players in the field at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola who have top-10 second-round scoring averages include Brandt Snedeker (fourth overall), Bubba Watson (fifth), Steve Stricker (sixth), Webb Simpson (seventh), David Toms (ninth) and Jason Day (10th).
Click below for scoring averages in each of the four rounds this year:
SCORING AVERAGE LEADERS: Round 1 | Round 2 | Round 3 | Round 4
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ATLANTA -- Aaron Baddeley went to Royal Melbourne in 1998 to watch the Presidents Cup.
Then 17 years old, he attended every day but one -- "It was too hot," Baddeley recalled -- and he remembers the week vividly. Like the time he spent watching Phil Mickelson hit bunker shots and when he asked David Duval's caddy what putter his boss was using.
Baddeley is three rounds away from knowing whether he gets to return to Royal Melbourne for the Presidents Cup in November – only this time as a member of his first International Team.
The 30-year-old is one of the players Greg Norman is considering for his two Captain's Picks. He'll announce his decision on Tuesday and Baddeley certainly made a strong case for himself with a solid 68 in the first round of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
"This is an important week," Baddeley acknowledged. "It's just a matter of trying to put that out of your mind and and just playing because if you keep focusing on that you're going to forget about playing golf."
Playing well like he did on Thursday helps, too. If you get in contention and "have a chance to win then you're going to get more mixed up in that as opposed to worrying about what Greg's thinking," the Aussie said.
Baddeley said he talked with Norman on Monday about 24 hours after he closed with a 67 to tie for 22nd at the BMW Championship. With spots in the TOUR Championship and Presidents cup on the line, Baddeley said Sunday “was probably more pressure than I've felt in a while."
Baddeley said the telephone call didn't add any pressure because "I knew he was going to watch anyway.” One thing Baddeley doesn't know, though, is when Norman will tell his two choices they’re on the team.
"All I know is that he's announcing on Tuesday and he's the captain, and Frank's the vice captain and he's got two picks," the grinning Baddeley said, sounding a bit like Sergeant Schultz in the TV show “Hogan's Heroes.” "And it's at Royal Melbourne. That's all I know."
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
LEMONT, Ill. -- Aaron Baddeley figured he needed to get back to even par for the tournament in order to secure his spot inside the top 30 in FedExCup points.
Thanks to an impressive back nine in dificult scoring conditions, Baddeley achieved his goal.
The Australian was a bogey-free 3 under on his last nine holes and finished with a 4-under 67 in Sunday's final round of the BMW Championship, leaving him at even par after 72 holes. Coming into the week 25th in points, Baddeley is projected to finish in 26th and shouldn't have to sweat out the rest of the day.
Baddeley knew he had sealed his fate at the par-4 18th by saving par after hitting his tee shot in the fairway bunker. When he rolled in his par putt from six feet, he gave a little fist pump.
"It's a big deal making the TOUR Championship," Baddeley said. "You can set your schedule for the next year. Plus, if I didn't make the TOUR Championship, I'd have no chance of making The Presidents Cup. I get one more week to play well and impress Greg."
That would be Greg Norman, the captain of the International team. Baddeley won't automatically qualify for the team, since he won't finish in the top 10 in Presidents Cup points after Sunday's round. But Norman's two captain's picks will be announced the Tuesday after the TOUR Championship.
If Baddeley plays well at East Lake, that could be the decisive factor in getting one of those picks.
"It's a massive deal, The Presidents Cup being in Australia," Baddeley said. "How often do you get to play for your country in your home country? To make that team is a huge incentive."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AKRON, Ohio -- Lee Westwood saved his best round for last at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
Westwood's 65 on Sunday tied Aaron Baddeley and Matt Kuchar for the low of the day and gave the Englishman a top-10 finish at 9 under. Equally importantly, it sent Westwood off to the PGA Championship with a boost of confidence.
Westwood had been searching after missing the cut at the British Open. He enlisted the aid of sports psychologist Bob Rotella, who works with his friend Darren Clarke, and short-game guru Dave Stockton, who has consulted with Rory McIlroy --- with the fact that both Northern Irishmen have won majors this year not lost on Westwood.
"It's been pretty good," Westwood said of his performance at Firestone. "I haven't hit many bad shots. I think I've missed -- not counting semi-rough where sometimes it runs off these fairways -- probably three fairways so that's pretty good golf around here. I have not missed many greens either."
Westwood, who used 27 putts on Sunday, said he felt he was making progress in his putting.
"It's moving along nicely," he said. "I don't want to get too ahead of myself, but today I felt a lot more confident on the greens, and saw the ball setting off on the line that I picked a lot more often."
And Westwood is actually looking forward to playing Atlanta Athletic Club, which by all accounts will feature severe rough and challenging greens for next week's PGA. "That's good the way I'm hitting the ball, the harder the better," he said.
With two months to go before the first tee shot is struck in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, much remains to be sorted out.
The top 125 players in the FedExCup standings are eligible to begin the four-event Playoffs series at The Barclays, which will be held Aug. 25-28 at Plainfield Country Club in Edison, N.J. A year ago, it took 380 points to make the field for The Barclays – and a total of 83 players have already earned that many points in 2011.
Seven rookies are among those 83 -- including Masters champion Charl Schwartzel (No. 19); HP Byron Nelson Championship winner Keegan Bradley (No. 22); Bob Hope Classic winner Jhonattan Vegas (No. 24); Valero Texas Open winner Brendan Steele (No. 31); Robert Karlsson, who recently lost in a sudden-death playoff to Harrison Frazar at the FedEx St. Jude Classic; Chris Kirk (No. 50), who tied for second at the Shell Houston Open; and Kevin Chappell (No. 61), who tied for third last week at the U.S. Open.
Another rookie, Scott Stallings, is knocking on the door as well. at No. 84 in the standings.
The history of the FedExCup has shown that it takes more than just qualifying for the Playoffs to make a run at the title and the $10 million bonus, though. In the four previous season-long competitions, only three rookies total have managed to qualify for the Playoffs and advance to the finale at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola: Marc Leishman (2009); Andres Romero (2008); and Brandt Snedeker (2007). All three went on to win Rookie of the Year that season.
Of the players who were in the FedExCup top 30 entering The Barclays in 2010, all but eight continued their strong play through the Playoffs and advanced to the TOUR Championship. And while all 30 players at the TOUR Championship will have a mathematical chance to win the FedExCup, the top five in the standings control their own destiny and can win the FedExCup with a victory in Atlanta. So position in the FedExCup standings entering the Playoffs is key.
With that in mind, Bubba Watson could regain the No. 1 position the FedExCup this week at the Travelers Championship, where he won his first PGA TOUR title last year. Watson, currently No. 2, is only 38 points behind leader Luke Donald, who is idle this week. Watson gained the FedExCup lead in May when he won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and held it for five weeks, until Donald took over when he tied for seventh at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance.
Of the other players in the current top 20 who are competing at the Travelers Championship, Nick Watney (No. 6), David Toms (No. 8), Brandt Snedeker (No. 12), Martin Laird (No. 15), Webb Simpson (No. 16), Aaron Baddeley (No. 17) and Hunter Mahan (No. 18) could take over the FedExCup lead this week. All but Watney and Toms would need a win to do so.