Aaron Baddeley- makes impressive start in Honolulu – file photo Bruce Young
18 years ago, the Sony Open in Honolulu was Aaron Baddeley’s first PGA Tour event as a cardholder. That year he finished runner-up after a playoff against Ernie Els and while his career has been mixed since, the boost that finish gave him has led to a career in which he has won four titles and US$22 million on the PGA Tour.
Today he continued his love affair with the Waialea Country Club by adding an opening round of 64 on the par 70 layout, his only real blemish coming when he missed the green left at his 4th hole but seven birdies has resulted in him being in a share of 4th place and two shots from the lead.
Baddeley’s form for much of 2020 as simply awful, missing 12 of his last 14 cuts but after his round today he suggested it had not been quite as bad as the results might have indicated.
“Honestly, it’s been a really weird stretch because I feel like I’ve been playing well,” said the 39 year old. “I’d play all right and hit one poor shot or something and end up missing the cut by a shot. I feel like I missed a bunch of those by one shot. It’s such a fine line. I felt like I was playing well and just wasn’t quite getting it done.
“I’ve been working with Butch Harmon since August, so he’s given me two things to focus on. I’ve just been working on those every day and seeing it getting better and better and better, and it was a matter of just trusting what I’ve been doing and going out and just playing golf, and that’s sort of what I did today and that’s been good.”
Baddeley heads the Australians, two ahead of Marc Leishman who birdied three of his last five rounds for his round of 66.
Defending champion, Cameron Smith, began his defence well with an opening nine if 32 but tread water on the way in for a round of 67.
Cameron Davis had 68, Adam Scott 69, as did Rhein Gibson and Matt Jones.
The leaders, Peter Malnati, Jason Kokrak and last week’s runner-up, Joaquin Niemann, opened with rounds of 62 and lead by two.
Joint tournament leader Joaquin Niemann – photo courtesy of PGA Tour