US PGA Tour veteran Aaron Baddeley has made an auspicious start to his ‘new normal’ with a tie for fourth in the season-opening Safeway Open at Silverado Resort & Spa in California’s Napa Valley.
Ultimately finishing one shot out of the playoff won by Kevin Tway over Ryan Moore and Australian Open headliner Brandt Snedeker, Baddeley now has something to build from as he endeavours to put together as strong a schedule as he can.
Without a US Tour card for the first time since 2002, Baddeley fronted up and topped Monday qualifying simply to earn his place in the Safeway Open field.
A five-under 67 in the second round propelled the 37-year-old towards the top of the leaderboard and trailed Snedeker by six shots starting the final round in his attempt to become the first Monday qualifier to win a PGA Tour event since Arjun Atwal in 2010.
A bomb from close to 50 feet delivered a confidence-boosting birdie at the first and he continued his surge with a birdie from just outside 20 feet at the par-4 fourth. An up-and-down from the back of the par-5 ninth allowed Baddeley to make the turn at three-under and when Snedeker dropped shots at 10, 11 and 12, he had drawn to within one of the lead.
Finding the greenside bunker saw Baddeley make bogey at the par-4 12th and missed birdie chances at 15 and 17 kept him out of the three-man playoff, a birdie at the last securing his best tour finish since his win at the Barbasol Championship in July 2016.
Baddeley’s performance not only netted him a cheque for $US241,280 and 104 FedEx Cup points, it earned him a place in the field in the next open event, likely to be the Sanderson Farms Championship at Jackson, Mississippi, in a fortnight’s time.
Baddeley wasn’t the only Aussie to take advantage of Monday qualifying with Sydney’s Brett Drewitt putting his honeymoon on hold in order to register a tie for 25th, his best finish on the PGA Tour.
In his first tournament as a full member of the PGA Tour, Cameron Davis produced a brilliant final round of 68 in blustery conditions to vault 39 places up the leaderboard and finish in a tie for 17th. As others struggled Davis took the front nine apart, a blistering tee shot of 334 metres (365 yards) setting up eagle at the par-5 fifth followed by birdies at the sixth, eighth and ninth holes to make the turn in 33.
New Zealand’s Danny Lee continued the form he showed to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs to start the 2018-2019 PGA Tour season with a top-10 result, another boost ahead of his trip to Melbourne next month to partner Ryan Fox at the World Cup of Golf.
John Senden was the only other Australian to make it to the weekend but was eliminated after the third-round cut after a two-over 74.
Herbert’s highs continue at Dunhill Links
A year of uncertainty will end with a place in the Race to Dubai finals after Lucas Herbert recorded his sixth European Tour top 10 of the season at the time-honoured Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.
Englishman Tyrrell Hatton appeared destined to record a third consecutive Dunhill Links win midway through the final round, but four bogeys on his final nine holes allowed Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard to swoop and record the second European Tour win of his career.
Herbert was also able to make a move on Sunday, his two-under 70 around the Old Course highlighted by three birdies on the outward nine to move up 11 spots on the leaderboard and finish in a tie for seventh.
The 22-year-old Victorian only wrapped up his 2019 card with a runner-up finish at the Portugal Masters last start but is now 50th on the Race to Dubai standings and guaranteed a spot in the first round of the finals, the Turkish Airlines Open, which is limited to the top 70 on the moneylist.
For three rounds it looked as though veteran Marcus Fraser would lead the Aussie charge in Scotland, but he was unable to carry his outstanding play through to the final day. Starting the final round inside the top five and needing a good result to move towards the top 110 on the Order of Merit, Fraser made a birdie at the par-5 fifth to get to 14-under. But six bogeys between the eighth and 17th holes saw the 40-year-old drop into a tie for 10th, his best result since he was tied for fifth at the Italian Open almost 12 months ago.
Teaming up with Aussie cricket legend Shane Warne to finish 12th in the team event, Kiwi Ryan Fox had 73 on Sunday to finish tied for 24th, West Australian Jason Scrivener making birdie ahead of the famous St Andrews clubhouse backdrop to also end the week inside the top 25.
Taking advantage of the invitation earned via his 2017 PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit finish, Deyen Lawson moved up 60 places in the final round courtesy of a two-under 70 to be tied for 28th and earn a cheque for €37,780, Queensland’s Jake McLeod also surviving the three-round cut to finish tied for 48th in his first European Tour event in Europe.
• On the Staysure Tour, Peter Fowler was the sole Australian representative at the Farmfoods European Senior Masters in Coventry, his tie for 24th keeping him in fifth position on the Order of Merit.
Higginbottom continues Asian Tour climb
Jake Higginbottom’s unlikely pursuit of a 2019 Asian Tour card continues to gain momentum after the Novocastrian recorded his second consecutive top 20 finish at the Yeangder TPC tournament in Chinese Taipei.
A tie for 18th in last week’s Mercuries Taiwan Masters saw Higginbottom move up six spots into 75th position on the Habitat for Humanity standings and he was able to move up a further six places this week with a tie for 11th at Linkou International Golf & Country Club.
American John Catlin recorded his third win of the season with a two-shot victory, with Higginbottom equalling Catlin’s final round of seven-under 65 as the best rounds of the day.
Making the turn in two-under, Higginbottom went on a tear to start the back nine, recording six birdies in succession from the 10th hole before an untimely bogey at the par-4 16th stalled his impressive momentum.
Given he began the Asian Tour season by missing five cuts in the first six events he contested, Higginbottom’s impressive late season form has moved him up to 69th on the Order of Merit and within reach of the top 60 who automatically retain their cards for 2019.
Like Higginbottom, Andrew Martin sits just outside the top 60 on the moneylist, his final round of 69 good enough to end the week in a tie for 14th and 66th on the Habitat for Humanity standings. It was an eventful Sunday for Martin, who recorded four birdies against two bogeys on the front nine, made a double-bogey at the par-4 15th and then finished with birdies at 17 and 18.
Victorian Josh Younger and Kiwi Ben Campbell were a further shot back from Martin in a tie for 21st with David Gleeson and New Zealand’s Gareth Paddison tied for 30th at one-under for the week. Steven Jeffress (T59) and Matt Stieger (T62) were the other Australians to make the cut.
• On the penultimate event of the 2018 PGA Tour-China schedule Max McCardle continues to hold his place inside the top 15 on the Order of Merit with a tie for 16th at the Zhuhai Championship at Orient Golf Club. Only five players completed the week in red numbers with American Kevin Techakanokboon victorious by a shot from Japan’s Yuwa Kosaihira.
New Zealand’s Nick Voke was in the hunt to record a third consecutive China Tour victory until the rookie pro showed he is human with a Sunday 77, McCardle faring better with four birdies and three bogeys in a final round one-under 70.
Luke Toomey’s tie for sixth was the best finish of the Australasia contingent, the Kiwi closing out the tournament with three straight birdies to sign for a three-under 68, the best round of the day.
Kevin Yuan’s two-over 73 was good enough to finish tied for 24th while DJ Loypur and Sean Underwood were both tied for 42nd with even-par rounds of 71.
Jack Munro endured a difficult final round – three double-bogeys and two triples in his 11-over 82 – as he finished tied for 56th alongside James Gibellini at 18-over.
Endycott takes step towards Web .com status
Two down, five to go.
Harrison Endycott’s determination to advance straight to the Final Stage of Web .com Tour Q-School took a further two steps on Sunday as he recorded his third straight top-five finish at the PGA Tour Latinoamerica’s San Luis Championship.
By finishing runner-up at the 65 JHSF Aberto do Brasil last month and moving up to 17th on the moneylist, the Sydneysider was able to skip the First Stage of Web .com Q-School and a tie for fourth this week in Mexico moved him up to 15th on the Order of Merit.
If the 22-year-old can move inside the top 10 over the course of the next two events in Chile and Peru he will be able to bypass Second Stage, while a top-five finish on the Order of Merit at the end of the year would earn him full Web .com status for 2019.
A model of consistency all week with rounds of 69-68-69-69, Endycott stumbled early on Sunday with a double-bogey at the par-4 third hole but bounced back quickly with birdies at five and six to turn in even-par. Starting the back nine with consecutive bogeys had Endycott trending in the right direction before a closing birdie at the par-5 18th moved him up into the top five, six shots behind winner Nicolas Echavarria.
Endycott will this week contest the Volvo Abierto de Chile 2018 in Santiago followed by the Diners Club Peru Open in Lima in pursuit of a place in the top 10 on the Order of Merit.