Senden heads for British Open after John Deere win

Australia’s John Senden recorded his first USPGA Tour win on Sunday at the John Deere Classic and clinched a berth in the British Open.

Senden moved atop the leaderboard for good with a birdie on the 17th hole and parred the 18th after an impressive bunker shot to win the $4-million event.

An Australian who entered the tournament with three international victories, Senden carded a three-under-par 68 at the Deere Run course to finish at 19-under 265 and edge JP Hayes from the United States by one stroke.

Senden led all day until Hayes—playing a group ahead of him—birdied the par-5 17th to move to move into a tie at 18-under.

But Senden matched Hayes’ birdie to move to 19-under, then delivered his clutch bunker shot on the final hole, setting up an easy par putt to clinch his first PGA Tour title and a spot in next week’s British Open at Royal Liverpool.

“My actual lie in the bunker was a beautiful lie, an uphill lie,” Senden said.

“All I had to do was splash it out, and let it track down the hole.

“The green was quite flat, slightly downhill. Very flat. So, you know, I had to be positive and knocking that last putt in was fantastic.”

The Australian entered this week with eight top-10 finishes in 138 PGA starts.
His best career finish was fifth in the last two Bob Hope Classics.

“Being a winner on Tour is a different kettle of fish,” said Senden, the fifth different Aussie to win this season.

“It is ... not a monkey off your back, but something that is a dream that you can go out there and say, ‘Hey, look, I am a PGA Tour winner now. It is really exciting.”

German Alex Cejka and American Heath Slocum finished in a tie for third at 16-under.

Hayes, who won here in 2002 for his second and last PGA Tour title, recorded seven birdies and a bogey en route to a closing 65.

His round could have been even better, but he narrowly missed an eagle putt at number 17 that would have given him a one-shot lead.

“Some of the greens out here are difficult to read,” Hayes said. “For me, that is one of them. I was unsure of the read.”

He had made just three cuts in eight events this year and was 203rd on the money list with $69 208 in earnings, but he took home $432 000 Sunday.

“I think I am more disappointed, really,” Hayes said. “It is a great finish and all.

“But it is so close and especially in my limited schedule.”

Defending champion Sean O’Hair finished in a tie for 39th, 11 shots off the pace. - AFP

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