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Aaron Baddeley making the most of start in Bermuda after Monday Qualifying

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Aaron Baddeley making the most of start in Bermuda after Monday Qualifying

The second time Monday qualifying for an event in the last two months

    Written by Jim McCabe @PGATOUR

    Adam Schenk makes birdie putt at Butterfield Bermuda

    SOUTHAMPTON, Bermuda – When you hole out from 118 yards for eagle during a back-nine 29, sign for 62 to seize the lead, and insist on gushing about your playing competitor, well . . . you wonder if that says more about Ben Crane or the guy next to him who shot 64, Aaron Baddeley.

    Either way, their play was a storyline during Friday morning in the second round of the Butterfield Bermuda Championship at Port Royal Golf Course.

    Crane, who played his final 10 holes in 8 under to push into the clubhouse lead at 14-under 128 – “The best I’ve played in a long time” – has that gentle soul to him that allowed him to appreciate his competitor’s performance.

    “We played at Mid Ocean on Monday and he’s playing so well,” said Crane, who shares with Baddeley a strong Christian faith and on-line Bible sessions. “He’s never been in a better spot.”

    Playing out of the past champion’s category is a tribute to his accomplishments, including four PGA TOUR victories, but doesn’t guarantee many starts. Baddeley has truly embraced where he is at in his career. At 41 and in his 21st season on the PGA TOUR, he doesn’t look down upon those Monday qualifiers.

    And why should he? He’s got a knack for them of late, especially if they involve a 6-for-2 playoff, it seems.

    Last month at El Macero in Davis, California, Baddeley made an eagle in a playoff to seize one of the final two spots into the season-opening Fortinet Championship. Then on Oct. 17, the Aussie birdied a challenging first hole at ChampionsGate in Orlando to again master a 6-for-2 playoff and get into the field here at Port Royal Golf Course.

    Baddeley took advantage to place T-36 at the Fortinet and he backed up Thursday’s bogey-free 65 with Friday’s 64 to get within one of Crane’s clubhouse lead. All credit to Mike Adams, his swing coach out in Arizona.

    “I started working with Mike about a year ago,” said Baddeley, who last won in 2016 and who hasn’t made the FedExCup Playoffs in three years. “He’s just really simplified my swing. For the majority of my career, that’s been the battle and I’d say this summer I hit the ball consistently, probably the most consistent I’ve ever done in my career.

    “I feel like the confidence is back.”

    It’s that renewed faith in his golf game that sent Baddeley to the Monday qualifier in Orlando. “My past champion’s status might have gotten me (into the Butterfield Bermuda Championship), but if I hadn’t have gone and my status hadn’t gotten get me in, I would have been gutted,” said Baddeley.

    Then he paused, perhaps thinking that he deserved a mulligan. Not all the credit, he said, should go to Adams. That’s because “my wife (Richelle) talked me into it,” said Baddeley. “She told me to go.”

    It meant that Richelle would be home with their six children – four boys, two girls, ages 13 to 2 1/2 – and Baddeley let that sink in, then smiled. “She’s the best wife ever.”

    Jim McCabe has covered golf since 1995, writing for The Boston Globe, Golfweek Magazine, and PGATOUR.COM. Follow Jim McCabe on Twitter.

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