Pacific Palisades, CA (Sports Network) - Aaron Baddeley closed with a two- under 69 Sunday to earn a two-stroke victory at the Northern Trust Open. Baddeley, who collected his third PGA Tour win, finished at 12-under-par 272. "It's definitely been a couple of long years, but it was worth every bit, and I really feel that the last couple years is actually what made it easier today," said Baddeley, whose last tour win was in 2007.
"Like today, I struggled on the 12th hole, made a silly double there, and just to be able to let it go and get onto the next hole and forget about it and hit two nice shots there and make a birdie, that was key." Vijay Singh also shot 69 Sunday to take second at minus-10. Kevin Na managed an even-par 71 to end alone in third at nine-under-par 275.
Jimmy Walker and 2001 champion Robert Allenby both closed with three-under 68s to end alongside Ryan Moore (69) in fourth place at minus-eight. Two-time champion Fred Couples birdied the first three holes at famed Riviera Country Club on Sunday to take the lead, but he played the final 15 holes in five-over par. Couple ended with a two-over 73 to share seventh place with K.J. Choi (68) at seven-under-par 277.
Baddeley maintained his one-stroke lead at the start of the round thanks to a two-putt birdie on the first. However, Couples got off to a fast start to claim the top spot on the leaderboard. Couples, the 1990 and 1992 champion, also two-putted for birdie on one. He followed with a chip-in birdie at two and an 18-foot birdie putt at the third to take a one-stroke lead.
He remained one stroke ahead with pars on four and five, but the wheels started to come off at the sixth. Couples missed the green on the par-three and played his second to four feet. He missed the par putt to drop into a share of the lead with Baddeley at minus-11. The seventh proved to be the turning point. Baddeley poured in a 21-footer from the fringe for birdie, while Couples was making a mess of the hole.
Couples drove right into thick grass and tried to pitch out to the fairway, but instead found a bunker. His third came up short of the green, then he played his fourth to 13 feet. Couples two-putted for double-bogey to tumble three back. Baddeley was two ahead of Singh after his birdie on seven. He extended that margin to three with a six-foot birdie effort at 10. Singh birdied 11, but bogeyed 12 and 13.
"I was right in there then," Singh said of his birdie on 11. "Then, I just played 12, 13 badly. I hit a good drive on 12 and hit a terrible second shot, wrong club actually. But all in all, I'm pretty satisfied with the way I played." The 29-year-old Baddeley stumbled to a double-bogey at 12, but was still two clear. He came right back with a birdie on 13 as he drained a huge left-to- right breaking putt to get back to 12-under.
"I was surprised my six-iron went a little past the pin and made probably the best putt of the week right there," Baddeley said of his birdie on 13. "That really got me back on track." Armed with a three-stroke lead, Baddeley two-putted for par on 14 and 15. He missed the green on the par-three 16th, but got up and down for par. Baddeley scrambled for par on 17, and sank a five-footer for par at the last to seal the win.
"Definitely helps having a two-shot cushion instead of one because you can make a mistake," Baddeley said of the closing stretch. "At the par-five 17th, I was expecting Vijay to make birdie, so I was really trying to make a birdie. Both Freddie and I misread that putt down the hill there. But it definitely makes a big difference having that little bit of a cushion there."
Singh had three birdies and a bogey on the front nine. After his bogeys on 12 and 13, the Fijian bounced back with a nine-foot birdie putt on 16 to get to 10-under. Couples' slide down the leaderboard continued on the back nine as he posted three more bogeys to go with a lone birdie on No. 11.
NOTES: Baddeley earned $1.17 million for the win...The final group needed five hours, 17 minutes to play the round...David Duval (67) collected his first top-10 finish of the year as he tied for ninth at minus-six...Two-time heart transplant recipient Erik Compton fired the low round of the day, a seven- under 64, to improve 39 places into a share of 25th at three-under-par 281. It was his best career tour finish...There are two PGA Tour events next week. Ian Poulter will defend his title at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship and Cameron Beckman is slated to defend his crown at the Mayakoba Golf Classic.