BMW notebook: Baddeley's unorthodox approach working well

Tim Cronin

“Stack and tilt” sounds like either a failed rock band or instructions for a stock boy at Kmart.

It is, in fact, a golf swing theory that goes counter to what almost everyone else teaches, eschewing weight shift in favor of centering the weight, for one thing. But it works for Aaron Baddeley, so much that he won the Phoenix Open in the winter and has five more top-10s since, including a solo fifth in Boston last week. This week, it and a decent putting performance have him tied for the lead with Jonathan Byrd at the halfway point at Cog Hill.

Unlike those who have scratched their heads at the ideas behind stack and tilt, Baddeley embraced them. After a six-hour conversation with proponents Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett, that is.

“I understand the reason behind it,” Baddeley said.

Two weeks after starting to work on it, Baddeley finished fifth in the Australian Open. He recommends it not only for his peers, but for 15-handicappers.

“It makes it really simple,” he said. “I watched the guys teach a guy in Scottsdale who would top the ball, hit it five yards, and in two days this guy was hitting it really nice. I was like, ‘Whoa, that’s pretty impressive.’ ”

Woods raises the bar

Off the course, Tiger Woods is winning the endorsement game, and by a wide margin. Friday, Golfweek reported Woods’ latest deal: A five-year pact with Gatorade worth up to $100 million. Woods will be endorsing three different products made by the firm, including a drink that will be named after him.

His income will be based on endorsement fees and sales of the new drink. Golfweek reported Gatorade outbid Vitamin Water’s $75 million bid for Woods’ services.

“We hope to finalize it soon,” Woods said.

With a deal like that, plus his other deals, including a budding course design business, Woods can skip the first FedEx Cup tournament every year and laugh all the way to the bank.

Gallery gazing

WGA officials announced an estimated 30,000 tickets had been sold for the round, but, since Evans Scholars no longer run the parking lots, said they had no estimate on actual attendance. The Scholars, unavailable this year because they’re back in school, used clickers to count cars for a more precise measure of the gallery, but the firm hired to wave people in off Archer Avenue and Main Street doesn’t do that.

Thus, for two rounds, the official estimate is that 50,000 tickets have been sold or otherwise distributed. It appeared, however, that the actual total gallery for Thursday and Friday was about 28,000, with around 10,000 on Thursday and 18,000 on Friday.

Saturday has to be a big day for the Western, given that the biggest sporting attraction going against it, the Notre Dame-Penn State football game, starts at 5 p.m., about when play is supposed to conclude.

Sunday’s full plate, including the Cubs in a pennant race, the Indy Racing League’s title-deciding race in Joliet, the U.S.-Brazil soccer exhibition game at Soldier Field and the Bears’ 3:15 p.m. opener, could see people coming to Cog Hill early, then bailing out at 2:30 or so to rush home to watch the Bears.

Going low

As with Thursday, Friday’s scoring average of 70.308 needs an asterisk. Once again, the PGA Tour employed “lift, clean and place” in fairways, so players could wipe mud off their ball. The average is the lowest ever for the second round, and second-lowest overall, though with only 65 players based on the FedEx Cup standings, the bottom half of the field is missing.

Dubsdread is playing shorter than its listed 7,326 yards. Thursday, the lengths of the 18 holes totaled 7,196 yards, and Friday, the distance was 7,249 yards, according to the PGA Tour’s ShotLink system.

Around Dubsdread

There’s a new cool spot to watch the action. The WGA had added a grandstand behind the sixth green, which not only affords a better view of the par-3, but an excellent look at tee shots on the adjacent par-4 seventh hole. ... The 2-hour, 47-minute rain delay allowed the Golf Channel to offer live coverage rather than taped action in its 2-6 p.m. window. The 15 hours of coverage over four days by the Golf Channel and NBC is a record for the Western, as is the placement of a TV tower behind every green for 18-hole coverage. ... The best BMW-sponsored attraction, besides a handful of vintage cars and a motorcycle in a parking lot display, is the Earth Lounge, an air-supported bubble where in the middle can be found a dual-powered car. It can switch from gas to liquid hydrogen at the click of a button.

Western BMW Round 2 Statistics

Aaron Baddeley (-9)

423 444 344 – 32

 443 424 345 - 33 - 65 (-6)

FH: 9/14

 GR: 13

 Putts: 26

 Avg. Yds.: 282.1

 SS: 0/1

Jonathan Byrd (-9)

333 443 455 – 34

 454 435 334 - 35 - 69 (-2)

FH: 10/14

 GR: 13

 Putts: 29

 Avg. Yds.: 285.6

 SS: 0/0

Justin Rose (-8)

434 344 445 – 35

 443 443 345 - 34 - 69 (-2)

FH: 12/14

 GR: 14

 Putts: 30

 Avg. Yds.: 276.9

 SS: 2/2

Steve Stricker (-8)

433 633 344 – 33

 343 425 444 - 33 - 66 (-5)

FH: 11/14

 GR: 16

 Putts: 28

 Avg. Yds.: 276.8

 SS: 0/0

Tiger Woods (-8)

434 442 444 – 33

 443 444 434 - 34 - 67 (-4)

FH: 9/14

 GR: 15

 Putts: 29

 Avg. Yds.: 290.4

 SS: 3/3

Camilo Villegas (-8)

333 643 455 – 36

 343 434 444 - 33 - 69 (-2)

FH: 9/14

 GR: 15

 Putts: 29

 Avg. Yds.: 279.1

 SS: 1/1

Easiest Hole

The par-5 11th hole was the day's pushover, averaging 4.538 strokes, or nearly a half-stroke under par. There was only one eagle, by Rodney Pampling, but more players birdied it (33) than parred it (26), and only five players made bogey.

Hardest Hole

Two holes later came trouble. The par-4 13th, one of seven holes that played over par, averaged 4.323 strokes. There were only three birdies: Vijay Singh, John Mallinger and Brett Wetterich.

Shot of the Day

Justin Rose's second shot on the par-5 15th hole landed in a greenside bunker. From there, it's not a difficult up-and-down for a birdie, but Rose went the routine one better, holing out for an eagle, a contributing factor to his standing a stroke back of the leaders after 36 holes.

Disaster of the Day

Jonathan Byrd might be the co-leader, but he didn't earn dinner last night. He was the only player in the field of 65 to bogey the par-3 12th hole. His tee shot came up just short of the green, and he three-putted from there, missing a 7-footer for par.

Quote of the Day

"It's been kind of a double dip against the tournament."

 — Tiger Woods on the combination of early tee times and stormy weather holding down attendance.