Aaron Baddeley left no doubt how much his first victory in five-and-a-half years meant to him.
The Australian made a 24-foot putt on the fourth hole of a playoff with Si Woo Kim to win the Barbasol Championship on Sunday at Grand National. Then Baddeley broke into a celebratory dance off the green, tossed his club in the air and flung his cap back onto the green after his fourth PGA Tour victory.
‘I think you could tell by my reaction how much it meant to me,’ he said.
Baddeley secured a two-year exemption and a spot in the PGA Championship.
Both parred the first three holes of the playoff, three on the 18th and the third on the 17th.
Kim parred the 18th again after Baddeley had already clinched his first win since the 2011 Northern Trust Open. He said at times doubts crept in about whether he’d win again, calling last year the worst of his career. His 10th place finish at Grand National was his best of the season.
‘It’s been a long time between drinks,’ the Australian said. ‘I had some real struggles.’
Baddeley finished with a five-under-par 66 to match Kim at 18-under-par 266. He was 11 strokes off the lead at the midpoint.
Kim shot a 63, closing with a bogey.
‘It was an exciting tournament,’ Kim said, speaking through an interpreter. ‘I had a slow first few rounds. I’m glad I finished the third and fourth round strong. The playoff was definitely a great experience for me on the PGA Tour.’
The 21-year-old South Korean sent his approach down a slope into the rough between two grandstands on the fourth playoff hole. He chipped to five feet but Baddeley closed it out before Kim finished.
‘I was just telling myself, Let’s end this right here. Come on,’ Baddeley said. ‘The first couple of putts (in the playoff), I didn’t quite swing it the way it needed to be swung. I just let it swing and it was going up over the hill and I was like, Oh wait, this looks really good.’
Kim had a two-stroke lead before a bogey on the 18th hole after putting within nine inches on his par attempt. Baddeley parred to force the playoff.
The weather turned steamy after a light drizzle on the final regulation holes.
Former Auburn University player Michael Johnson finished a stroke back after a 65 in his first professional tournament, a few miles from campus. He just missed a potential birdie putt on his final hole that would have landed him in the playoff.
‘I felt like I belonged out here this week, which is great,’ Johnson said.
Richard H. Lee (65), Michael Thompson (65), Andres Gonzales (67) and Jhonattan Vegas (72) all finished at 15-under-par.
Vegas opened the day with a three-stroke lead and five holes to go to complete the rain-delayed third round. He posted four bogeys and an eagle over the first nine holes, two days after setting the course record with a 60.