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Senden Pulls off Win at Valspar Championship
While 54-hole leader Robert Garrigus struggled, John Senden played steadily down the stretch en route to winning the Valspar Championship Sunday at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla.
The 42-year-old Aussie finished with a 1-under 70 at the difficult Copperhead course for a 72-hole total of 7-under 277.
The victory, worth $990,000, 500 FedEx Cup points and an automatic berth in next month's Masters, was the second of Senden's career and his first since the 2006 John Deere Classic.
Finishing a stroke back after a 72 was Kevin Na, who had a chance to send the tournament into a sudden-death playoff on the final hole. But the South Korean native missed a long, snaking birdie putt from above the cup on the par-4 18th to settle for a par and second place at 6-under.
Senden has experienced success at the classic Larry Packard-designed course before, with two runner-up finishes. "I just love the course, the trees, the way it flows," he said at greenside.
"The scoring always stays under double figures here," he added. "I think that if I could just stay in the moment, I knew I was swinging well enough to go out there and give it a shake."
After opening with two birdies and a bogey on the front nine to make the turn in 1-under 35, Senden added three more birdies - against three bogeys -for an even-par 35 on the home half.
His key play of day came on the par-4 16th, when he chipped in from 50 yards for a birdie. He later called it "like a magic shot."
With his second career Tour title, Senden becomes the first over-40 winner since Woody Austin - at age 49 - at last year's Sanderson Farms Championship. Senden is also the new season's oldest winner by five years.
Scott Langley rose into early contention off three birdies in the first six holes. But the 24-year-old Missourian cooled off, recording two more birdies and a pair of bogeys the rest of the way for a 1-under 70 and a third-place finish at 5-under 279.
Sharing fourth at 280 were Will MacKenzie (69), 2012 champion Luke Donald (70) and Garrigus. Garrigus, who started Sunday with a one-stroke lead over Na, had a horrible start with a bogey and two doubles in the first six holes to make the turn in 5-over 41.
The 36-year-old Idaho native was considerably better after the seventh hole, with a birdie and all pars, but he couldn't add more birdies and overtake Senden.
George McNeill posted a 70 to take solo seventh at 281, while sharing eighth at 282 were Canadians Graham DeLaet (68) and David Hearn (71), Italy's Matteo Manassero (72), England's Justin Rose (74) and Americans Gary Woodland (69) and Matt Every (71).
Defending champion Kevin Streelman closed with a 74 to end up tied for 38th at 2-over 287.
For all the scores, visit http://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html/?pid=y.