Date: March 17, 2014

Grant Report – Senden ends winless run

ustralian John Senden has ended an eight-year drought and won a spot in next month’s Masters after triumphing at the US PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship in Florida.

The 42-year-old Queenslander pocketed $1million as he took his second title in more than 12 seasons on the tour – eight years after his debut success.

Senden began to threaten late in the final round before storming home with birdies at two of the last three holes to beat American Kevin Na by one shot.

Again the quietly-spoken veteran demonstrated his affinity with the tricky Copperhead Course at Innisbrook in Florida, where he finished runner-up in 2007 and 2008.

He shot a last round one-under par 70 to finish with a total of seven-under 271.

Senden’s only other win in the US was the 2006 John Deere Classic but despite the lack of success since, he said he knew he could win the tournament if he remained focused.

“I just love the way the course flows in amongst the trees and just the difficulty of the course,” Senden said.

“The scoring always stays under double figures here and I knew that if I could just stay in the moment, I knew that I’d swing well enough to go out there and give it a shake."

It was Senden’s short game which proved crucial.

As he moved towards a share of the lead, he sank his pitch from the rough at the par-four 16th to seize top spot, dropping the wedge shot short and watching the ball roll into the cup.

“It was just like a magic shot,” Senden said.

On 17, he followed with the long birdie putt to grab a two-stroke edge and parred the last.

“At 17 I had the line and struck in well and it went right in the middle,” Senden said.

He put himself in contention during the third round with a seven under par 64 and began the final day two shots behind overnight leader Robert Garrigus.

Garrigus collapsed under pressure early in his last round while Senden picked up shots at the first and fifth to lead briefly before dropping back temporarily with a bogey on seven.

He slumped further with bogeys at 12 and 13 before regrouping to birdied the next and set up a strong finish.

Na had begun the day one shot behind Garrigus and while he picked up a shot on the fifth he handed it back at the next hole.

He then went bogey, double-bogey on the next two and tried to undo the damage with birdies at the 14th and 17th holes but had left his run too late.

Garrigus fell out of contention on the front nine as double-bogeys on three and six bracketed a dropped shot on four.

He steadied with a run of seven pars and birdied 14 but ended up finishing three shots off the pace.

Another unheralded American, Scott Langley, finished on five under after a closing 70 which put him a shot ahead of Garrigus, Will MacKenzie and former world No.1 Luke Donald.
Birdies at three and nine had put Donald well in contention but he dropped shots at 11 and 13 and eventually finished with a 70 after making a four at the par-five 14th.

Fellow Englishman Justin Rose had also been primed to make a challenge after birdieing the first but a run of five bogeys in seven holes from the seventh to the 14th put paid to his bid.

Victorian Robert Allenby led the rest of the Australians home, sharing 32nd place at two over par.
Greg Chalmers had opened with a 68 but slipped behind to tie for 44th at four over while Stuart Appleby was six over the card and Marc Leishman one shot further back.

Geoff Ogilvy’s worries continued to show no signs of abating as he missed the cut once again.

By: Robert Grant