Behind the teenage-like facial scruff, the wickedly charming smile and easy-going nature, Aaron Baddeley is one testy, competitive dude. He’ll let his PGA Tour golfing pals – in this case, Ryan Moore, Bubba Watson and Ben Crane – do the chatting at the BMW Northwest Charity Skins Game, make the off-hand remarks and get the gallery howling with their witty one-liners.
When it comes to pure ball-striking, especially with irons, Baddeley is the guy.
If it’s down to making a clutch putt, Baddeley is usually the last man standing.
Baddeley’s all-around superior game led to another dominating performance Saturday afternoon in front of a gallery of 1,500 at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place where the high-profile Australian wrapped up another skins-game title.
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This time he doubled his output from 2007 – he won 14 skins, taking $31,000 of the possible $40,000 prize money – and easily lapped the field of his contemporaries.
The long-hitting Watson, of Bagdad, Fla., was second with three skins ($7,500), and Crane, the newcomer from Portland, grabbed one skin ($1,500). Moore, the host from Puyallup, was shut out. A year ago, Moore cashed in four skins worth $10,500.
It’s not that Moore didn’t play well. The Cascade Christian and UNLV product shot a 3-under-par 69 – give or take a few gimmes that come in a skins-game format – which was the day’s best round.
Moore also made five birdies, most in the field, on a beastly layout scheduled to host the 2015 U.S. Open.
“Ryan made some good putts today to keep it going. He played well,” Baddeley said. “That is why skins are funny.”
Four times on the back nine, two or more golfers matched birdies to carry over skins. Moore was in on three of those occasions – Nos. 10, 14 and 16.
By the time the golfers reached the 211-yard, par-3 17th, 11 skins were up for grabs. And at the most opportune time, Baddeley hit one of his best iron shots.
Watson and Crane pulled their tee shots left. Moore’s 6-iron shot was dead on line but fell short and into a greenside bunker. Baddeley’s 6-iron sailed pin-high, stopping 15 feet from the hole.
“That 17th hole isn’t the easiest hole,” Baddeley said. “Where they missed it, that’s a tough up-and-down. I thought one of them was going to get up-and-down (for par), so I was planning on making my putt.”
The other three golfers couldn’t get inside of Baddeley after their second shots. All of them missed lengthy par putts, leaving the door open for Baddeley to two-putt from his distance, which he did.
“I guess it was fitting he ended up winning all those skins,” Moore said, “after I took them away from him a couple times.”
From tee to green, Moore was superb. His delicate greenside chip on the drivable par-3 12th off the left bank nestled close to the hole, but he missed the 7-foot putt for birdie, and the growing collection of skins.
The tee on the par-4 16th was moved up to 316 yards, and Moore crushed his drive in the ideal spot, landing on the green 70 feet away. But he three-putted for a par.
“I think I might have taken them down (if it was stroke play),” Moore said. “(The putts) just didn’t go in. That’s golf. That’s just how it works sometimes. As far as my game is concerned, That’s probably the best round of golf I’ve played in the last three or four months.”
Baddeley won three skins on the par-3 third in the same way he clinched the title on No. 17 – with a par.
The Australian’s chip from off the green stopped inches from the cup for a tap-in par. The others weren’t so fortunate – Crane missed a 9-foot par putt, and Moore a 4-footer.
Watson captured two skins with his birdie on the fifth hole (4-foot putt), and Crane grabbed one a hole later by making a 7-footer for birdie.
But this has been Baddeley’s competition to dominate. In two skins games at Chambers Bay, he’s won 21 skins. The rest of the field has totaled 15.
“This feels great, just great,” Baddeley said. “I’ll be back to defend, and for more teriyaki.”
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442
BMW NW CHARITY SKINS GAME
hosted by Ryan Moore
At Chambers Bay Golf Course, University Place
7,174 yards, par 72
Aaron Baddeley, 14 skins$31,000
Bubba Watson, three skins$7,500
Ben Crane, one skin$1,500
Ryan Moore, no skins$0
3rd hole (3 skins): On the par-3, Baddeley’s chip stopped inches from the hole, and his tap-in par won out as Moore and Crane missed par putts shorter than 10 feet.
5th hole (2 skins): Only Watson had a realistic chance for birdie on this downhill par-4, and he made a 4-footer to win after a wonderful approach from the left fairway.
6th hole (1 skin): Crane’s approach landed pin-high on the par-4. He watched Watson miss a 14-foot birdie putt, then calmly sank a 7-footer to nab the skin.
17th hole (11 skins): Baddeley was the only golfer to hit the par-3 green. In fact, the other three missed par putts before Baddeley attempted his 15-foot birdie putt. A tap-in par won the hole.
18th hole (1 skin): On the finishing par-5, Watson was the only one who went for the green in two shots. His chip from the right apron set up his 6-foot birdie putt, and skin clincher.
Moore’s monstrous tee shot on the drivable 304-yard, par-4 12th landed in the front fringe. Instead of playing a 30-yard pitch shot directly to a back pin, he played it off a hill on the left side. His approach stopped 7 feet from the hole.
As Moore was lining up a 10-foot birdie putt on the 13th green, a man on the walking trail way above the hole remarked to a friend, “I got to watch Ryan Moore last year?” Hearing the dialogue, Moore yelled up to the man, “Really?” Then the affable Watson followed by also shouting a little advice: “It’s 20 bucks, come on in.”
“You put something like this together and you kind of have your fingers crossed and you hope everyone enjoys it, and appreciates it and wants to come out and support it. Two years in a row, it’s had incredible community support.” – Moore, on the event.
Todd Milles, The News Tribune