The golf career of Aaron Baddeley has been as much about persistence as a quest for perfection.

The 42-year-old Victorian’s longevity will be recognised this week when he becomes just the sixth Australian to contest 500 tournaments on the PGA Tour. The moment he strikes a shot at the Fortinet Championship in California, which begins late tomorrow night (Australian time), Baddeley will join Robert Allenby, Stuart Appleby, Bruce Crampton, Steve Elkington and Jim Ferrier as Aussies in the PGA Tour’s ‘500 Club’.

While far from finished – indeed, Baddeley is quite enthusiastic about his prospects of adding to his career victory tally in his 40s – the four-time PGA Tour winner and father of six children concedes he has under-achieved in golf yet over-achieved in life.

“I feel like I’ve under-achieved, definitely, with what I expected and the goals that I had set,” he told Australian Golf Digest this morning from the Fortinet Championship while reflecting on a PGA Tour journey that began at the 2000 Honda Classic while still an amateur.

“Life-wise, I feel like I’ve exceeded all my expectations. My family, my kids, my wife – I couldn’t be more at peace and joyful off the golf course.”

Baddeley turned pro amid great fanfare on November 1, 2000. Hundreds of people attended a unique launch event held in the Melbourne Exhibition and Conference Centre – who else turns pro via such a public announcement? – and hosted by the face of sport on the Seven Network, Bruce McAvaney. A beaming Baddeley strolled on stage, tapped a short putt across an AstroTurf green and into a hole to signify his last golf stroke as an amateur, before greeting McAvaney at the lectern to announce his professional intentions. Those in attendance received an admittance keyring adorned with Baddeley’s signature to mark the occasion:

Just a few weeks later, he went on to win a second consecutive Australian Open – this time cashing a prizemoney cheque after winning as an amateur in 1999 – and then early in the new year Baddeley defeated Sergio Garcia to win the 2001 Greg Norman Holden International at The Lakes. It appeared we had a certified superstar in the game once more.

Yet the fire failed to ignite Stateside, where he desperately wanted to succeed. Amid a series of swing-coach changes and technique overhauls, Baddeley always retained his golden putting touch, his no-time-wasted approach yielding consistently impressive results on the greens… once he got his ball there.

It took until the 2006 Heritage tournament for Baddeley to raise a trophy on the PGA Tour, fittingly doing so on Easter Sunday for the devout Christian. When he won the Phoenix Open the next February, it appeared he’d found his mojo on golf’s premier circuit. Later that year he led the US Open at Oakmont through 54 holes, climbed to 16th in the Official World Golf Ranking and claimed the 2007 Australian Masters as Australian Golf Digest anointed him our Player of the Year.

Baddeley’s 2000 Australian Open title was his second in a row but first as a pro. [Photo: Getty Images]

However, another four years passed before he claimed the 2011 LA Open at Riviera. Then five more seasons went by before his fourth and most recent PGA Tour title, the 2016 Barbasol Championship. He’s been winless since then and now ranks 224th but hasn’t lost hope – not even close.

“I feel like a lot of my best years are ahead of me,” Baddeley said today. “I feel like when my game is at, the simplicity of it is only going to get better. I’ve definitely got goals that I can still achieve – and this is not like a ‘wishy’ thing; I feel like it’s right there, ready to go.”

Two years ago, Baddeley began working with New Jersey-based instructor Mike Adams as the pair set out to simplify Baddeley’s approach.

“Honestly, I just really work on my grip and my setup and then I don’t really think about my swing hardly at all,” he says. “Being like that, you’re able to improve on hitting your shots… I do a lot of yardage practice, so my iron play this past season has been probably the best I’ve ever had.

“So just things like that where it’s just really simple. Driving it straighter – things like that just play into my strengths of being a great partner and [having] a great short game.”

Baddeley’s latest revival began last October with a T-6 at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. He then parlayed that good form into further top-10 finishes at the Sony Open in Hawaii and 3M Open (both T-7s).

Tomorrow Baddeley will become one of 151 golfers with 500 or more starts on the PGA Tour. Among more than 2,400 players on tour with 20 or more starts, only 6 percent have reached 500 starts, while 109 of 151 players with 500 or more career starts have four or more PGA Tour victories.

Whichever way you choose to view Aaron Baddeley’s golf career, his endurance counts for plenty. And the end is not yet in sight.