Australia’s Aaron Baddeley held off the challenge of Vijay Singh and Fred Couples to win the Northern Trust Open at Riviera. It was Baddeley’s first PGA Tour victory since 2007.
Baddeley began the final round one clear of Kevin Na and 51-year-old Couples. It was the veteran who came out of the blocks fastest, making birdies the first three holes to take the lead.
“When he got off to a good start, I was like, ‘Freddie looks like he’s going to have one of those days,'” said Baddeley.
But things fell apart for Couples on the 7th. He pushed his drive into thick rough and had to smash at the ball to get it back on the golf course. It wasn’t ideal for a man with a famously fragile back.
“I just didn’t feel the same after that,” Couples said. “I didn’t really hurt myself, but I never hit a shot, and I just got it around. I mean I couldn’t hit an iron. I hit a few good drives, but I was afraid to hit the ground.”
Baddeley made the most of Couples’ slip-up by birdying the hole. It meant a three-shot swing and the Australian was back in control. He moved further ahead with a birdie at the 10th but undid much of his good work with a double bogey at the 12th.
The 29-year-old responded well to the error, however, holing a snaking putt for birdie across the 13th green. He parred his way in and that was good enough for the victory. The win earned Baddeley a start at this year’s US Masters.
Another elder statesman of the PGA Tour, Vijay Singh came through the field to finish alone in second. The Fijian put his good performance down to success with the putter.
“That’s a great, great thing to have when you’re putting well,” Singh said. “I haven’t done that for a long, long time. This is going to get me some places.”
Northern Trust Open
Riviera Country Club, California
Feb 17-20, purse $6,500,000, par 71
1 Aaron Baddeley (Aus) 67 69 67 69 272 $1,170,000
2 Vijay Singh (Fij) 68 70 67 69 274 $702,000
3 Kevin Na (USA) 71 66 67 71 275 $442,000
T4 Robert Allenby (Aus) 67 70 71 68 276 $268,667
T4 Jimmy Walker (USA) 68 71 69 68 276 $268,667
T4 Ryan Moore (USA) 69 68 70 69 276 $268,667
T7 K.J. Choi (Kor) 70 69 70 68 277 $209,625
T7 Fred Couples (USA) 68 66 70 73 277 $209,625
T9 David Duval (USA) 71 71 69 67 278 $175,500
T9 J.J. Henry (USA) 69 74 69 66 278 $175,500
T9 Justin Rose (Eng) 69 69 70 70 278 $175,500
Note: Player in bold signifies Titleist ball usage only
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