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Baddeley’s Breakdown

Posted by Matt on June 23, 2007

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We’re now a week removed from the weekend edition of the U.S. Open and we’re able to look back at what transpired now that the dust has settled.  Of course, we all know by now that Angel Cabrera won, and deservedly so, looking like a character that might celebrate the victory by chiefing a fat Cuban cigar while getting a lap-dance from some South American prostitute.

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daly2.jpg Uncle “Long John” would be proud.

But not only did Cabrera deserve to win it, but Tiger Woods did not.  He couldn’t make a clutch putt to save his life on Saturday as he hit 17 of 18 greens-in-regulation but came away with only two birdies to one bogey.  If my math serves me correctly, that means Tiger two-putted all but two holes for an astounding 34 putts in the Third Round.  The Fourth Round wasn’t much friendlier to Tiger as his play was a bit more sporadic and he never seemed to be able to turn the corner and start owning Oakmont. 

To his defense, however, Tiger didn’t play bad, Cabrera just played one stroke better.  I also won’t blame him as his wife was ready to explode with their first born and did so the day after. Thus, it is probably good that Tiger didn’t force a Monday playoff as he would’ve had to choose between Baby Woods or U.S. Open Playoff (maybe it was Earl from above that kept Tiger from making birdie on the Back Nine that would’ve forced the playoff so that he could see his daughter be born, and yes, I called child birth “exploding”).

But nonetheless, the finals came down to Angel and Tiger with a little Furyk thrown in the mix.  So we have to beg the question, what happened to Aaron Baddeley?  Aaron was the 54-hole leader by two strokes, at +2, and seemed confident, almost cocky, in the post Third Round interviews about his chances.  He was ready to go toe-to-toe with Tiger and beat him and he wasn’t worried about playing with Tiger in a Major, he’d done so in two previous.  Baddeley was saying all of the right things, but was the 26-year-old poised enough to do it?

Well, evidently he wasn’t as Aaron triple-bogeyed the first hole of the Fourth Round and immediately relinquished the lead to Tiger Woods.  Anyone, including Aaron, who says playing with Tiger does not affect them are lying and I just wish I had a screen shot from the telecast to prove this theory. 

The scenery was the first green and Tiger had already putted out for par.  Aaron went on to miss several make-able putts, all while Tiger issued his trademark stare just off the edge of the green with every miss. At one point, a cameraman placed himself directly behind Tiger, focusing on Baddeley putting but with a completely motionless and out-of-focus Tiger fixated on the young Aussie looming on the left side of the screen.  That is the picture I want.  The scenario on the first marked the beginning of “Baddeley’s Breakdown” and goes to show you that one of Tiger’s biggest assets is not his game but his intimidation factor. 

That was the end of Aaron Baddeley before he even really started. The Australian went on to post a 10-over 80 on the final day of the U.S. Open, opening the door for the likes of Angel Cabrera, Tiger Woods, and Jim Furyk to chase the championship with ice water running through their veins.  This was a tough lesson for Aaron to learn but it further fuels the fact that if you are going to go out on such an extreme limb with your mouth before being paired up with THE Tiger Woods, you are going to have to back it up completely with your game the next day or you will be embarrassed. 

This is a lesson learned by many through Tiger’s use of tough love and my favorite example is the likes of Steven Ames, who said, prior to his match-up with Tiger Woods at the 206 World Golf Championships’ – Accenture Match Play Championship, in regards of whether or not he could defeat Woods:

“Anything can happen,” Ames said with a smile, “especially where he is hitting the ball.”

Woods went on to mercilessly beat Ames in the quickest possible fashion in matchplay format: 9 and 8 (up 9 with 8 holes to go, only tying one hole as a perfect game in matchplay is 10 and 8).

Tiger did not win the U.S. Open…this time, but he was still victorious in inciting “Baddeley’s Breakdown.”

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