With back-to-back wins at the Australian Open, his Badds.com website and his I'm-out-to-beat-Tiger-Woods media message, Aaron Baddeley casts a long shadow. For now, Adam Scott is perfectly happy to reside within it.
Take away the glitz, though, and the two 20-year-old boy wonders from Down Under have much in common. Both have won a European tour event this year. Both have stylish swings built for distance. Both are 6'1" and 176 pounds. At the Honda Classic, Baddeley missed his ninth cut in a row on the PGA Tour shooting 76-69, while Scott made his first cut in four tries in the U.S., finishing a solid 13th, five shots behind winner Jesper Parnevik.
Baddeley was hardly discouraged. "You've got to view it as, I'm not going to play well in all of them," he said, putting some positive spin on his early exit even though he is now 40 over par in 22 Tour rounds. His next start will be at the Masters to which he received a special invitation on March 5.
The reserved Scott had little to say about his play at the Honda. He wasn't invited to Augusta but will play this week at Bay Hill, where he will get another chance to gain ground on Baddeley's Q rating.
Baddeley is almost a parody of the puffed-up modern athlete. Packaged by Nike, he has a swing coach, a personal trainer, a nutritionist and, at the Honda, two publicists. Badds.com is chock-full of exclamations ("Q: 'Do you sing while walking down the fairway?' A: 'Yes...always!' ") and apprises fans of Baddeley's affinity for the band Powderfinger, algae bars and Britney Spears, as well as his abhorrence of bad fashion. Anticipating that he will soon earn a Tour card, Baddeley has bought a condo at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he joins Phil Mickelson in high-stakes games.
Scott's intense but understated approach is closer to the traditional Australian sports ethos. The best Scott's agent, Anthony Castellaro of IMG, can do when asked to name his client's most distinguishable characteristic is say that Scott "hates cheese." But there's more to the young man than that. Scott says he is interested in fashion. (He endorses the same apparel company, J. Lindeberg, as retrochic Parnevik but prefers classic ensembles.) Above all, fellow Australians consider Scott to be easy company.
Among his peers, Baddeley's self-assuredness is wearing thin. "The kid is up himself," says one Aussie pro. Butch Harmon, Scott's swing coach, let Baddeley have it in January. "He's a nice enough young man, but he's a bit full of himself," Harmon said.
Baddeley responded by winning the Greg Norman Holden Invitational two weeks later for his third pro victory, further testimony to his knack for the dramatic. (He was 18 when he beat Norman and Colin Montgomerie while winning the '99 Australian Open.) On Tour his swing is much admired. "He's fundamentally one of the most sound players you'll see," says Mickelson.
Scott's swing, taught to him by his golf-pro father, Phil, is equally impressive. In speed, shape and follow-through it bears a striking resemblance to Woods's. Last year at the European tour stop in Belgium he led the field in driving distance and accuracy. "He's a world-beater," says Dean Robertson of Scotland, who narrowly lost to Scott at the Euro tour's Alfred Dunhill Championship in Johannesburg in January. "Adam will win majors. He'll compete against Tiger. Maybe not right now but soon."
Scott downplays any rivalry with Baddeley. "I don't mind that he has gotten more attention," he says. "He has won a bit more. He has high expectations for how he plays over here."