Date: February 24, 2019
Author: Martin Blake

Baddeley leads in Puerto Rico

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Coachless for the first time in his career, Aaron Baddeley has leapt out of the pack to take the 54-hole lead in the Puerto Rico Open on the US PGA Tour.

Baddeley, 37, is on track for his first win since 2016 after a third-round 66 in Rio Grande that did not include a single bogey.

The Arizona-based Melburnian said his T4 finish in the Safeway Open had given him confidence.

“I feel like my game’s been in a good spot for a while,” he said afterward. “Getting the fourth early in the year helped set up the year, to get into the invitationals, the Bay Hills, the Memorials. It’s a good start to the year and hopefully (I) build on it tomorrow.”

Baddeley has often been criticised for making major changes to his game, but since last October he has been managing his swing by himself after a period working with Scott Hamilton and Brad Malone, the brother-in-law of Adam Scott.

“This past October I decided to do it myself,” he said. “I’ve got my keys I constantly work on. It’s the same for the last 18 months. It’s doing that and taking full ownership, sort of owning my game, owning my swing, understanding if it gets off a little bit know what it takes to get it back as opposed to relying on someone else.’’

Baddeley leads by a shot from Nate Lashley of the US going into the final round of an event that — coinciding with the World Golf Championship tournament in Mexico — has a thinner field and a smaller prize pool. Nevertheless, a win would give the two-time Australian Open champion another two years of playing rights.