Not Baddeley to the bone; our state's stakes
Most watching here could recognize Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia and John Daly, but this week the leader board was filled with more unrecognizable names than seen on the Bravo network.
Even the first-day leader, Erik Compton, the feel-good story that buoyed the tournament, was not a "name.'' Ditto those tapping the ceiling Friday. Jimmy Walker? (I still maintain it was Esther Rolle's portrayal of Florida Evans that stole the show "Good Times.'') Briny Baird? Scott Piercy? Richard S. Johnson? Didn't all men at one time use the name Richard S. Johnson on a fake ID?
Well, allow me to help identify one of the leaders. He's a 29-year-old man to locate and cheer.
His name is Aaron Baddeley. Those who follow golf closely know of him. He's won $10.7 million over five years. He's at 8 under at the Classic after a 5-under round on Friday.
And there are some cool facts swaddling him. His father, for instance, once served as chief mechanic for Mario Andretti's race team.
But bad to the bone? Not Aaron.
In this era of athletes connected to "Cribs,'' guns in bars and strippers, Baddeley shines like a flame on a candle. Quietly, yet beautifully.
He's the anti-Daly. If you've been looking for a "positive'' story in your newspaper, well, here ya go.
See, Baddeley takes what he calls "quiet time'' every day. And - brace yourself, readers - he prays.
Baddeley doesn't push his religion. He's not showy about it. After his round on Friday, he didn't even bring up his faith in the press conference until asked.
Also, when he did answer, it wasn't with fire and brimstone. He answered matter-of-factly. His faith is a large part of his life. That's the fact of the matter. Period.
He quotes scripture - to himself - for strength.
"One of my favorites is II Timothy 1:8,'' Baddeley said. "It says, 'For God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind.' Whenever I get a little bit nervous, I always quote that. It helps calm me down, knowing I'm out there and the Lord is with me.''
What? Making some of you a little uncomfortable?
To me, it's refreshing. Some of the golfers came off the course with their leggy blondes. Friday night was the topic. They slapped hands with buddies about when the party started. (Uh, just for the record, when does it start?)
Baddeley spoke of his relationship with Christ and the Bible. He spoke of his outlook - beyond Friday night.
"Thinking more about others and not so much about yourself,'' Baddeley said. "I just try to live a life that's pleasing to Him. I love it. He's my passion. So living a life that's pleasing to Him is my goal.''
There were also light moments in regard to the golfer. Baddeley, for instance, was never around Indy racing. His family moved from New Hampshire to Australia when he was 2. He did, however, meet Andretti.
"I've seen Mario a few times,'' Baddeley said. "I saw him back in 2007. He was amazing. He was at a tire store doing an outing and I went to see him. I was like, 'Hey, Mario, it's Aaron Baddeley.'
"He's like, 'Aaron! I follow you all the time!' He was an amazing guy.''
Just like Baddeley.
Congrats go out to Jonathan Bartlett and Barry Evans, West Virginia's stakes in the Greenbrier Classic.
Evans, the Berry Hills pro, finished with a 2-over-par 142 via a pair of 71 rounds. He defeated such Tour pros as Martin Laird, Webb Simpson and Dick Mast.
Bartlett's 2-under performance was even more impressive. An amateur given a tournament exemption, Bartlett outscored seasoned pros like Paul Goydos, Trevor Immelman, Billy Mayfair and Brett Quigley.
There were whispers some of the pros didn't exactly like the exemption selection with other, more conventional, Tour applicants waiting in the wings.
Tournament director Tim McNeely was more than happy with the call.
"A tournament exemption can be for strategic marketing purposes, whatever,'' McNeely said. "In that case, [Bartlett is] a great young player who played at Ole Miss and roomed with [Canadian Open winner] Carl Petersson. He obviously can play.
"To win our state amateur championship on this course, where [owner] Mr. [Jim] Justice has played in so many championships ... that's why they're our picks. Our picks.''
Evans, by all accounts, was striking the ball with authority both Thursday and Friday.
"Barry was hitting it,'' McNeely said. "If he could've got some putts to drop ...''
Regardless, both brought a lot of fans to the Classic. And a lot of thrills to those fans.