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Monday, February 21, 2011

The Limerick Summary: 2011 Northern Trust Open

Winner: Aaron Baddeley

Around the wider world of golf: S.S.P. Chowrasia got his 2nd ET win at the Avantha Masters in India; Kristie Smith won the Pegasus NZ Women’s Open on the LET (LPGA rookie Tiffany Joh finished 2nd -- good show, T-Joh!); Bernhard Langer won the the ACE Group Classic on the Champions Tour; and -- huge surprise here -- Yani Tseng butchered the field at the LPGA's first event of the year, the Honda LPGA Thailand. (Granted, she had some help, I.K. Kim quintupled the 17th -- that's a 9 on a par-4 -- to fall out of contention, but Inky still would have come up short.) This is Yani's 4th win in 2011, 4th in a row -- 3 in consecutive weeks -- and 8th win in 12 months. You can argue who's #1 on the other tours all you want, but everybody knows who's #1 in the women's game!

Photo of Aaron Baddeley from ABCNews.comI was pretty sure today a youngster would win at Riviera, perhaps in a playoff against an older player. I was right... except it wasn't Kevin Na winning over Fred Couples. Rather, it was Aaron Baddeley over Vijay Singh.

It looked at first like I might have been onto something. When Freddie opened with 3 straight birdies, I thought perhaps it was just a matter of time before Kevin got things in gear and the battle was on. Alas, it was not to be; Kevin posted 3 bogeys against 2 birdies on the front 9, and finished with an even-par day. Struggles with his putter took their toll.

But the magic left Freddie as well. A bogey on 5 took some of the wind out of his sails, but it was the 3-stroke swing on 6 that really ended his hopes. Fred's double was offset by Aaron's birdie, and the tournament was basically Aaron's to win or lose.

In a sense, this was a resurrection of two careers. Much has been made of Baddeley leaving the "Stack and Tilt" fold, but it's easy to forget that he had previously made swing changes with David Leadbetter. He's now back with his original swing coach Dale Lynch and getting back to the way he used to swing. The lesson here isn't that Stack and Tilt (or David Leadbetter) are bad for your golf, but rather that radically changing a successful swing is a questionable move. Supposedly he wanted to improve his driving, but there are better ways to find the fairways than risking losing your game.

As for Vijay... well, Vijay was #1 in Total Putts and #2 in Putts per GIR this week. Yes, Vij has a weird new grip that seems to be working for him. Add that to finally being healthy (Vijay reportedly said that he finally realized you can't practice the way he always has without hurting yourself), and we may be seeing Vijay win shortly as well.

But not this week. Vijay got within one shot of Aaron, but the Aussie would not be denied. And now both players are looking forward to a great year.

I'd have to say Aaron has the head start, though.

And so this week's Limerick Summary both salutes Riviera's newest champion and serves as a cautionary tale about too much swing experimentation. Dr. Frankenstein, eat your heart out!
He's rebuilt his swing twice, has Baddeley,
Because he has driven so saddely.
But after this win,
Perhaps he'll begin
Exploiting his game's strengths more gladdely.


  1. Isn't that "Vijay has ANOTHER new grip..." :-D That man comes up with the most bizarre grips for his putter than anyone I've ever seen. With his golf swing, he works on the same thing he has worked on for 20 years on the range - but he can't go a season without changing putters and grips half a dozen times.

    Gotta like Badds getting back to his old swing from that Stack and Tilt swing...even though his other Tour win came at Hilton Head with the stack and tilt. If he can get his putter working a little better, he could have a terrific season.

  2. Vijay makes Langer look like Crenshaw when it comes to grips. The "grip du jour" is alive and well on Tour! I'm just glad to see Vij playing well again.

    Personally, I think Aaron's putting problems came from full swing struggles. If you don't hit the ball reasonably well, you put too much pressure on the putter. That's gonna wreck your putting, no matter how good you are.

    Unless you're Ben Crenshaw. ;-)

  3. I got some good footage of Vijay on the practice greens after the 2nd round of the Phoenix Open. He was using the same grip he used this past weekend so at least he hasn't changed his grip in the past 3 weeks. A record maybe? He's a good one to follow around the course. He swing is just so smooth and effortless.

    I like Badds too. This win should give him a ton of confidence as they get into the heart of the season. What's really going to be interesting is who Greg Norman will pick for his Presidents Cup Team. Could be an all Aussie affair.

  4. If Badds and Vij keep playing this well, Norman won't have to pick them. They'll qualify on their own!