Tue, Nov 15, 11:38am by Bren O'Brien
Seventeen years ago, Aaron Baddeley announced himself as the next superstar of Australian golf at Royal Sydney by becoming the first amateur to win the Australian Open in 39 years.
The significance of an 18-year-old defeating the greatest Australian golfer Greg Norman in a final day showdown was not lost on the wider Australian public as the era of Tiger Woods was just dawning.
In the 16 years since turning pro, unfortunately Baddeley has never released that potential. He has won four US PGA Tour events, the most recent in July this year, while he has never finished top ten in a major.
He has watched on while his contemporaries Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott and then Jason Day have all captured majors, with Scott and Day having had periods ranked as the world’s No.1 golfer.
Baddeley highest world ranking was 18 at the end of 2007, while at the end of 2015, he sat No.419 in the world, by far his worst since turning pro.
WATCH: Highlights of the 1999 Australian Open
But earlier this year, he adjusted his swing and he was rewarded with win in the Barbasol Championship in July, which secured him another two years on the US Tour and re-invigorated the 35-year-old father of four.
He heads to Royal Sydney this week with a spring in his step and some great memories of when he held the Stonehaven Cup aloft as a teenager all those years ago.
Spieth, who was six years old when Baddeley won here in 1999, has endured a lean year, winning just two tournaments. He coughed up a golden chance to win back-to-back US Masters, while he failed to make the top ten in any of the remaining three majors.
Spieth did win this tournament two years ago when it was held at The Australian, while he finished equal second with Scott at the same venue 12 months ago,
Scott has endured an interesting year, winning two tournaments early in 2016 before struggling in the majors. He is currently seventh in the world, but did win this tournament back in 2009. He has been second, fifth and second his last three attempts to win the Stonehaven Cup.
Ogilvy hasn’t won a tournament in over two years but in his most recent tournament, the Shriners Open, did finish fourth with four sub-70 rounds. A head-to-head bet between Ogilvy and Baddeley sees Ogilvy at $1.83, Baddeley at $1.93.
The man who won that Shriners Open was Rod Pampling, who claimed his first tournament win in ten years. The 47-year-old looks to back to some of his best form and according to Sportsbet has been backed from $201 to $21 over the past few weeks, Pampling was runner-up behind Spieth – albeit six shots adrift – in 2014, while he was fourth last year after firing a final round 61.
Joining Pampling at $21 is former winner John Senden, who won at Royal Sydney in 2006, as well as rising star Cameron Smith, who has made a promising start to his 2017 US PGA tour season with an 11th and a 10th in four events.
Suggested Bet: Back Baddeley to finish top 10 at $2.63.
Australian Open Winner (Market courtesy of sportsbet.com.au)
$4.00 Jordan Spieth
$4.50 Adam Scott
$19 Geoff Ogilvy
$21 Aaron Baddeley
$21 Rod Pampling
$21 John Senden
$21 Cameron Smith
$26 Jhonattan Vegas
$34 Greg Chalmers
$36 Curtis Luck
$41 Brett Coletta
$41 Ryan Fox
$41 Rhein Gibson
$41 Jason Scrivener
$46 Cameron Davis
$51 Matthew Griffin
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