It's been thirteen years since a twenty year old Aaron Baddeley with two Australian Opens already under his belt declared that he was aiming to be number one in the World Golf Ranking in the near future!
Fast forward to November 2013 and Aaron has won three times on the PGA Tour (2006 Verizon Heritage, 2007 FBR Open, 2011 Northern Trust Open) and four times on the Australasian Tour.
He has accumulated US $16,334,735 over his career and for most journey man professionals this would be viewed as an impressive career up to this point. But for someone who still has ambitions to be number one it has not gone to plan.
Aaron turned professional in 2000 the same year as Adam Scott and he headed off to the PGA Tour with invites to play in nine events including the Masters. Unfortunately he made only 1 cut. In 2001 it wasn't much better where he played in nine events and made just 2 cuts and a paltry US$19,435.00.
Although missing out at tour school at the end off 2001 he managed to gain playing privileges on the then Nationwide Tour. So for someone who had expected to be playing with the big boys on the PGA Tour and beating them he had to earn his place in the "Big Show".
This he did at the end of 2002 by finishing in the top five a total of 5 times on the Nationwide Tour, with a total of US $216,536.00 and a full card to play on the 2003 PGA Tour.
Aaron has kept his card since then but it has not been plain sailing managing to just keep his card a few times by finishing inside the 125 number on the money earned list.
So for a young golfer of nineteen years old who had won two Australian Open's behind him what has sabotaged his goal of winning more tournaments, a major championship and moving into the top ten in the World Golf Rankings?.
Without a doubt his driving accuracy has held him back to some extent hitting on average 56.02% of fairways with an average ranking of 183.18 over the twelve years he has been on the PGA Tour.
Combine this with his greens-in-regulation average of 61.00% and an average ranking of 172.25, the question begs to be asked how is he keeping his card, never mind wanting to be the number one ranked player in the world!
Well it's no secret that Aaron has been one of the top putters on tour every year and his average ranking (10.08) since they have kept Strokes Gained-Putting stats since 2004 is indeed very impressive.
So for a handful of events each year, when his ball striking improves marginally, he gets himself into contention and earns a big paycheck.
When his driving accuracy and greens in regulation improve to over 60% like they did in 2007 his annual earnings tripled to US $3,446,119.00 and he led the US Open at Oakmont golf club after three rounds.
Now the simple solution would be to improve his full swing technique and "presto" he's on his way to achieving his golfing goals.
Well Aaron's way ahead of that solution.
His coach in his junior and early professional career was leading Australian coach Dale Lynch who did a incredible job of coaching and preparing the young Aaron Baddeley to win the Australian Open in 1998 as an 18 year old amateur (the 1st amateur since Bruce Devlin's win in 1960).
And if that wasn't amazing enough, he then backed it up in 1999 to win again!
Unfortunately (as is often the case) Dale took the blame when the young Aussie sensation didn't make the expected transition to the top level of golf after turning professional, and eventually David Leadbetter was engaged to take the reins as his coach for a few years.
As the stats below show will show, his stats did not change.
So in 2006 he made the (some would say) radical switch to the "Stack and Tilt" coaching method with Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett, and you will note that his driving accuracy did move above 60% for the 1st time.
But as it happens many times with some tour players Aaron decided to make the move back to Dale Lynch at the end of 2008, and although his greens in regulation did improve, his driving accuracy again started to slide backwards to where it was barely above 50% at the end of 2013.
Well of recent times he's made yet another move and is now working with former PGA Tour player Grant Waite and teaching professional Joseph Mayo, who use the Trackman system (which measures statistical data of golf shots), and a proprietary golf science method to give them the sort of detailed analytics that they believe will help Aaron to make progress towards his major goal.
Aaron has made a good start to the overlapping 2014 PGA Tour season which is underway, and a top five finish at the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur (yes the PGA Tour is in Asia as well) has put him in 29th spot on the 2014 money list with nearly US $300,000.00.
Only time will tell if he has finally made the right move, but in our opinion unless his driving accuracy and greens in regulation performances improve he will not get even close to achieving the world number 1 ranking he declared he was aiming for in 2000.
We think (in our humble opinion) that it's somewhat ironic (when you read the quote below) that Aaron would want to change coaches once again to another method of instruction especially when he was being coached to simply play free and easy and have fun much like he did when he was a kid with the golfing world at his feet.
"It sounds weird, but he (Dale Lynch) had such an impact on my golfing career growing up," Baddeley said. "He was very much like a mentor, the way I thought, the way I practiced, the way I went about everything. To be able to come home -- come back to Dale -- felt like coming home because it felt like I was becoming a kid again. And that's what made it fun." - Aaron after winning The Northern Trust Open in 2011 at Riviera Country Club.
Lawrie and I will keep you up to date in the new year with how Aaron Baddeley fares on the PGA Tour under the guidance of his new instruction team.
Whichever way it goes we wish him all the very best in the years to come.
David Milne and Lawrie Montague - Pro Tour Golf College
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