Q&A with Heritage champ Aaron Baddeley
The folks on the TV side here at ESPN have a little game they like to play called the Budweiser Hot Seat.
Certainly, you've seen it before, the dim lights of the studio illuminating droplets of perspiration on the foreheads of interview subjects, their breathless pauses before carefully crafting appropriate answers.
Well, it's a little cooler over on the other side of campus, so instead, ESPN.com welcomed recent Verizon Heritage winner Aaron Baddeley onto what we'll call the Lukewarm Seat. Maybe we didn't have him sweating bullets, but the four-year PGA Tour vet did have to handle plenty of tough queries.
ESPN.com: You won the Australian Open as an 18-year-old amateur in 1999. Did you think it would take this long to earn your first PGA Tour victory?
Baddeley: No, I thought I was going to be more successful earlier, but I mean, I couldn't have written a better script, for it to be my anniversary weekend and Easter Sunday, which is very important me as I'm a Christian. This is a perfect time.
ESPN.com: One word to describe how it felt when that final putt went in on 18.
Baddeley: Relief-slash-joy. Does that count as one word?
ESPN.com: Yeah, we'll give you that. What's the best thing about winning -- the two-year PGA Tour exemption or the upcoming trip to Kapalua?
Baddeley: Well, it's nice to have the two years because I've never been there before. I'm always confident I'm going to keep my card every year; that's never really a thought. That's a good question. I guess the two-year exemption is probably better because you can relax and you've just got to play enough to worry about anything.
ESPN.com: You looked pretty slick in the white pants/white belt combo. Have you finally lost the nickname?
Baddeley: As in Dresses? ["Dresses Baddeley," get it?] It didn't really stick in the beginning. I thought it was a good nickname. [Fellow tour pro] Dean Wilson made it up, and I thought he was quite imaginative making it up. But I don't know, I guess I'm not wearing quite as loud ensembles these days.
ESPN.com: Of the four majors, which traditionally suits your game the best?
Baddeley: I'd say The Masters.
ESPN.com: Looking forward to possibly getting back there next year?
Baddeley: Yeah, I remember playing there in 2000 and 2001, absolutely loved playing there. I'm excited to get back, so hopefully we can keep playing well this year and earn a spot back there.
Baddeley: They were influential to aspire to get to their level. Like watching Faldo win, watching Nick Price win, watching Greg Norman win, thinking, 'That's where I want to be someday. That's the tournament I want to win someday.' They definitely played a role in painting the picture for me.
ESPN.com: And if you had to pick just one?
Baddeley: I'd say Greg Norman because of the personal influence he had on me, staying at his house, calling me on the phone. He left me a voice mail after I won, just playing practice rounds all the time together.
ESPN.com: What did he tell you after you won?
Baddeley: He just said, 'Great playing. Looks like you've been working hard on your game.' That's about it.
ESPN.com: Speaking of Norman, who's the best Australian golfer in the world right now?
Baddeley: In my opinion, I think the World Ranking's right. Adam [Scott] has played great for the last three years, so you'd probably say Adam is the best Australian golfer right now, but I hope that changes in the next year.
ESPN.com: You just got your first PGA Tour win. Who's the top player on tour without a victory?
Baddeley: Bo Van Pelt is up there. He's a real good player.
ESPN.com: Your father was the chief mechanic for Mario Andretti. Ever give any thoughts to an auto racing career?
Baddeley: No, I never did. Even though I love racing and driving fast, no, I never had a thought of an auto career.
ESPN.com: Let's play a quick version of Take Your Pick. Would you rather lead the tour in driving distance or accuracy?
ESPN.com: Driving accuracy or putting average?
Baddeley: Putting average.
ESPN.com: Melbourne or Scottsdale?
Baddeley: Oh, that's a good question. I'd say Melbourne.
ESPN.com: Aussie Open or U.S. Open?
Baddeley: U.S. Open.
ESPN.com: Plaid jacket or green jacket?
ESPN.com: Seven-foot putt to win a tournament or the dozens of interviews that come afterward?
Baddeley: Seven-foot putt. I'd back myself to make it.
Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com.
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