by Jeff Skinner
The stage was set at Riviera Country Club for a classic battle of old versus young at The Northern Trust Open. Fred Couples and Vijay Singh were poised to take down final round leader Aaron Baddeley. Baddeley was looking for his first win in four years and stayed the course long enough to hold off old guys Singh and Couples and win for the third time on the PGA Tour.
Fred Couples teased the crowd early on as he birdied the first three holes to take the lead in the tournament. Couples and his 51 year old back had the fans in lather as he threatened to become the oldest PGA Tour winner in thirty five years. But unfortunately Freddy’s biggest asset turned into his main liability as a few wayward drives kept him from holding his lead. His closing 73 left him five back of Baddeley, still not a bad week for a guy that spends most of his time playing golf with the senior citizens.
Vijay Singh has found the game that has put him fourteenth on the all time career list with 34 PGA tour wins. Singh said this was the best putting week of his career as he used only 105 putts for the week. But his final round 69 left him two strokes short of Baddeley.
Baddeley said he felt the heat early after Couples came out of the gate with three birds. “Well, I thought Freddie was going to be tough today because definitely winning is a skill, and Freddie has been winning quite often recently. When he got off to a good start, I was like, Freddie looks like he’s going to have one of those days where he’s going to play great.
I was still just trying to focus on my game and just try to do what I needed to do. I wasn’t really trying to I was still right there, I was still only one back. It wasn’t like I was three back. For me it was just trying to keep doing what I was doing. Well, everybody was yelling out “Freddie, Freddie, Freddie.” I knew he was going to be the fan favorite, and I mean, no reason why he shouldn’t be. He’s been such a great player over the years, and I mean, the fans just love him.”
The past two years have been tough for Baddeley. He could only manage four top tens in 49 tournaments he now has two and a win in just five tournaments. He’s gone back to his old coach and the changes he has made have finally paid off. He’ll get to take his game back to The Master and he’s very excited about that. “Yeah, definitely pumped. I feel like my game is a lot different now. These last few weeks is really working a lot on shot shaping, and around there you really need to shape your golf ball, hit fades and draws and highs and lows, so I’m excited to get back there. I really enjoy playing Augusta. I enjoy the golf course so much, so that’s what I’m really looking forward to that.”