Aaron Baddeley’s putter failed him at the worst possible time as the Victorian narrowly missed a second top-10 finish of the PGA TOUR season at the Desert Classic at LA Quinta in California.
As 31-year-old rookie Adam Long upset Phil Mickelson and Adam Hadwin with a birdie at the 72nd hole to record a win in just his sixth start on tour, Baddeley was left to rue a number of birdie putts, down the stretch, that failed to fall and could have earned him a spot in this week’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.
With limited status in 2019, Baddeley is relying on sponsor’s invitations and stellar play to earn starts on Tour and as he caught fire on Sunday he looked destined to play his way into Torrey Pines.
An eagle three at his second hole of the day – the par-5 11th – set the tone for the birdie blitz to follow.
The only player to reach the 11th in two shots all day, Baddeley made the putt from 16 feet and followed it with birdies at 12, 17 and 18 to turn in 5-under and surging up the leaderboard.
Back-to-back birdies at the third and fourth holes from 14 and 17 feet respectively lifted Baddeley into a tie for 15th and just one shot outside the top-10 with five holes to play, including two par-5s.
He gave himself chances from 22, 15, 16 and 12 feet at five, seven, eight and nine but one of the most highly regarded putters on Tour was unable to find the bottom of the cup, ultimately finishing tied for 18th having survived the 54-hole cut in a tie for 58th.
Sydney’s Cameron Davis looked set to post the third top-20 PGA TOUR finish of his young career until a bogey on the 72nd hole.
Starting the final round tied for 29th, three birdies on the front-9 and a fourth on the par-4 12th saw Davis make major inroads on the leaderboard, at one point tied for 13th and on track for his best finish to date on the PGA TOUR.
But after missing a good opportunity for a second straight birdie at the par-3 13th the 2017 Australian Open champion dropped shots at the 14th and 15th holes to lose ground to the field, his four-round total of 15-under par good enough for a tie for 28th.
Trailing runaway leader Phil Mickelson by two shots through 36 holes, the Desert Classic shaped as something of a coming out party for West Australian PGA TOUR rookie Curtis Luck until a third round 76 brought his charge to a premature end.
At 14-under through the first two rounds, Luck turned in even par and made birdie at 10 but endured a disastrous finish with back-to-back double bogeys and another dropped shot at the last to close out his round.
Four bogeys in his opening seven holes on Sunday kept him on the back foot as he ended the week at 7-under and tied for 70th.
Matt Jones, Rod Pampling and John Senden all failed to make the 54-hole cut.
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