Date: March 23, 2018
Author: Mark Hayes

Senden back as son’s cancer improves

Queenslander John Senden will make a return to professional golf this week after the most arduous year of his life.

The popular 46-year-old walked from the US PGA Tour last April when son Jacob, then 13, was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Senden immediately abandoned golf so he and his family, based in Texas, could fight the cancer as a unit.

But with Jacob mercifully showing positive signs in his fight, the evegreen Aussie veteran has decided to pick up the clubs in anger in the relative obscurity of the Louisiana Open on the Web.Com Tour where he began today with an opening one-under-par 71.

Senden, who quietly did some practice in his beloved Brisbane in the lead-up, tweeted he was looking forward to making just one start on the secondary tour before returning to the main tour at the Heritage in South Carolina the week after the Masters. He will then play the Texas Open.

The dual PGA Tour tournament winner explained Jacob's progress to the Web.Com Tour website this week, saying his brave son had endured six rounds of extensive chemotherapy and radiation treatments last year.

Jacob’s tumor has reduced in size – “from the size of your thumbnail, to the size of your pinky nail,” Senden told the website – and doctors at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas are reportedly pleased with the progress.

“I haven’t really played for 12 months, but in that time, Jacob has really, really hung tough,” Senden said.

“His whole body was getting slammed with all these treatments, and he was so strong in his whole attitude and his whole body, just really getting through the whole thing. He was tough.”

Senden said Jacob was not out of the woods and would require ongoing management throughout his life.

“It’s going in the right direction, but (the tumour) is still there,” he told the website.

“The scary thing is what could happen long-term. He’s OK now; he’s gaining his strength now. With the chemotherapy, you lose all your hair; now, he is getting it back. So, socially he feels better, but it’s really, really difficult on his body, for the time he has gone through it, and on the whole family.”

Senden is using a "family crisis" exemption from the main tour, calculated by averaging the number of starts he had made over five previous seasons, then subtracting his number of starts this past season, to calculate the number of starts he is allotted to match the No. 125 amount of FedExCup points from 2016-17 (while keeping points already accrued) in his attempt to maintain fully exempt TOUR status.