Baddeley could make Presidents Cup team

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Baddeley could make Presidents Cup team

ATLANTA - All year, Aaron Baddeley has dreamed of playing in his first Presidents Cup and the Australian has given himself every chance of achieving that goal at this week’s Tour Championship.

Baddeley is among a handful of contenders for the final two spots on Greg Norman’s 12-man international team to take on the United States at Royal Melbourne Golf Club from Nov. 17 to 20.

Norman gave his fellow Australian a timely pep talk earlier this week, and Baddeley has capitalized on that motivation by surging into a tie for the lead in Saturday’s third round.

“That’s been a huge goal of mine, to make that team and play down in Melbourne,” Baddeley told reporters after firing a six-under-par 64 at the East Lake course in Atlanta to end the day level with American Hunter Mahan at nine-under 201.

“It was definitely on the forefront of my mind to be able to knuckle down, play well this week and show Greg that I’ve got some form.”

Asked what Norman had told him during their conversation, Baddeley replied: “He told me he was just going to watch this week. He told me one other guy he was going to watch, and that was about it.

“He said: ‘Just go out, play good, win the golf tournament.’ I said: ‘All right.’ For me, it’s a motivator.”

The other player Norman has been monitoring this week at East Lake is Australian John Senden, who carded a 69 on Saturday to lie joint 24th in the elite field of 30.

As long as Baddeley remains in the title hunt during Sunday’s final round, he should clinch one of the two wildcard picks to be announced by Norman on Wednesday.

The other is widely expected to go to another Australian, Robert Allenby, a Royal Melbourne expert who ended up 13th in the final Presidents Cup standings. The first 10 players on the team were decided by the world rankings.

“I really want to be on that team, so I knew I had to play well this week,” said the 30-year-old Baddeley, who has never previously played in the Ryder Cup-style team competition.

“I got some good work done on Tuesday and Wednesday, especially on my putting, and I’m very pleased so far.”

The Presidents Cup has previously been staged at Royal Melbourne, in 1998, when Baddeley was an enthusiastic spectator.

“I remember watching, going down there and seeing Freddie [Couples], seeing Jim Furyk, seeing all the guys down there, seeing Norman playing,” said Baddeley, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour

“I have always wanted to play in Presidents Cups. It’s been a massive goal for me.”

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