Playing without the safety net of a PGA TOUR card continues to inspire Aaron Baddeley who recorded his third top-10 finish of the season at the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship in the Dominican Republic.
A four-time winner on the PGA TOUR, Baddeley finished inside the top-10 just three times in the past two seasons combined but after failing to retain his card for 2019 has recaptured the form that saw him once rank as high as No.16 in the Official World Golf Rankings.
The 38-year-old was well in contention for a fifth PGA TOUR title heading into the final round but was unable to make any ground on 54-hole leader Graeme McDowell who made a sensational birdie at the par-3 17th to claim his first PGA TOUR title since November 2015.
Baddeley’s 1-under 71 in the final round was good enough for a tie for seventh and another precious start at this week’s Valero Texas Open, validating his late decision to enter the tournament.
“With my status this year being 126-150, my wife and I were talking about it and it was just like, Hey, I could have a month off after this, so I've got to play,” Baddeley explained.
“I heard great things about the event last year, a lot of guys really like the golf course and being down here at the Westin where we stay, to come down and play I think it's a good decision.”
With two top-15 finishes in his past five starts, a 6-under 66 in the opening round looked like being the springboard for Matt Jones to enjoy a very good week also in the Dominican Republic.
Starting his second round with a quintuple bogey nine on the par-4 10th was less than ideal but a 5-under 67 on Sunday moved him up into a tie for 18th and reason to believe that a second PGA TOUR win is not too far away.
“Physically, I'm great. My body's probably never felt better than it does right now,” said Jones, who has battled niggling injuries in recent years.
“I would say my game's very close to something good happening, has been that way for a long time.
“I finally got my putter working, which has been probably my struggles for the last three years, why I've struggled.
“If I putt well, I'll have no issues the rest of the year.”
Curtis Luck and John Senden also qualified for the weekend, finishing tied for 52nd and 67th respectively.
On the Champions Tour, Stephen Leaney was tied for 51st in his tour debut at the Rapiscan Systems Classic in Mississippi with Victorian David McKenzie three shots further back in a tie for 58th.
Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship
Corales Puntacana Resort and Club, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
T7 Aaron Baddeley 68-67-68-71—274 $US93,500
T18 Matt Jones 66-71-73-67—277 $40,500
T52 Curtis Luck 71-71-72-69—283 $6,926
T67 John Senden 73-68-75-71—287 $6,150
MC Cameron Davis 74-71—145
MC Robert Allenby 75-72—147
Rapiscan Systems Classic
Fallen Oak, Biloxi, Mississippi
T51 Stephen Leaney 73-77-74—224
T58 David McKenzie 77-74-76—227
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