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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, April 17, 2006

Baddeley closes out big day with first title

Associated Press

"This is a stepping stone of the big picture," Aaron Baddeley said after capturing the Verizon Heritage for his first PGA Tour crown.

MARY ANN CHASTAIN | Associated Press

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HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. Aaron Baddeley began the day in the most perfect place he could imagine, on Harbour Town's lighthouse closing hole speaking about his faith.

He called on that faith hours later yesterday on the same hole, repeating part of a New Testament verse as he stood over the winning 6-foot par putt in the final round of the Verizon Heritage.

"I said, 'This is for you Jesus,' and knocked it in," Baddeley said.

Baddeley won his first PGA Tour title, rallying with two late birdies and finishing off Jim Furyk with a par on the 18th.

Baddeley was tied with Furyk entering the round, had a two-shot lead by the fifth hole, then was down by that many to Furyk after No. 11.

But the 25-year-old Australian proved unflappable, birdieing two of the hardest holes on the PGA Tour the 14th was statistically the hardest par 3 on tour last year and the 15th was the hardest par 5 to move in front for good.

Baddeley shot a 1-under 70 to finish at 15 under, a stroke ahead of Furyk (71) and two ahead of Vaughn Taylor (66) and Billy Mayfair (69).

"This is a stepping stone of the big picture," Baddeley said.

He aspires to use his golf career as a ministry to reach others. He agreed to the early morning service during The Players Championship, not knowing if he'd make the cut at Harbour Town.

Two days earlier, Baddeley closed his second round with an unlikely eagle at the famous lighthouse hole.

"At the 18th hole this morning, he was giving amazing testimony," said Baddeley's wife, Richelle. "Ten hours later, he's holding the trophy. So, it was great."

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